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Invest Ophthalmol Vis Sci. 1990 Nov;31(11):2448-55.

Prevalence of anisometropia in volunteer laboratory and school screening populations.

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  • 1Division of Biological Sciences, Cornell University, Ithaca, New York 14853.


For 10 years our laboratory has conducted, a longitudinal study of focusing and motor behavior of a volunteer population of 686 subjects aged 3 months to 9 years. Its purpose is to characterize normal refractive development in infants and children and to relate refractive anomalies to subsequent visual problems. Using age-related criteria for anisometropia adjusted to detect the most unusual 5% of the refractions on a test battery, we have found 19 nonstrabismic, anisometropic subjects (2.8% of total subject population). Of these, eight were either seen once or their anisometropia appeared at their last visit. Of the remaining 11 subjects, all had a reduction of their anisometropia to within normal limits on subsequent visits. Thus our current best estimate of persistent infant anisometropia is 0%, a startling result. By comparison, we found ten strabismic subjects (1.46%), two of whom had persistent anisometropia. Although we did not believe that anisometropic subjects could self-select and not participate in the study, it was possible that the volunteer laboratory population had characteristics atypical of the county at large. Thus we conducted a screening of 374 Head Start and first-grade pupils throughout the county, using the same methods. We found virtually no difference in the average refractive conditions between the laboratory and school populations and no significant difference in the prevalence of visual disorders. The very low prevalence of anisometropia in infants and young children in both populations has important implications for the etiology of anisometropic amblyopia.

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