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Clin Exp Optom. 2003 Sep;86(5):276-88.

The biological basis of myopic refractive error.

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Visual Sciences Group, Research School of Biological Science and Centre for VIsual Science, Australian National University, GPO Box 475, Canberra, ACT, 2601, Australia.


Myopia is among the most common refractive errors and is associated with the greatest risk of pathological outcomes. Most animals, including humans, are born with hyperopic errors. During development, axial elongation of the eye occurs and is regulated through a vision-dependent process, known as emmetropisation The extremely rapid changes in the prevalence of myopia and the dependence of myopia on the level of education indicate that there are very strong environmental impacts on the development of myopia. This conflicts with the common occurrence of familial patterns of inheritance of myopia, which suggests a role for genetic determination. There are more than 150 defined genetic syndromes in which familial high myopia is one of the features, including some that are not associated with other syndromes. The evidence for the roles of both nature and nurture in the aetiology of myopia is discussed. This review also examines the experimentally induced refractive errors associated with form-deprivation, recovery from form deprivation and the effects of both negative and positive lenses. In addition, it looks at the local and optical control of eye growth. Finally, the various control pathways for growth are considered. These include dopamine, ZENK-glucagon, retinoic acid and retinoic acid receptors, crystallin, seratonin and melatonin, vasoactive intestinal peptide and enkephalins, nitric oxide and various growth factors.

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