To evaluate refraction and its development in young adults born prematurely, screened for retinopathy of prematurity, and to compare with individuals of the same age born at term.
The participants were 59 preterms, with a birthweight of ≤ 1500 g, and 43 term-born controls, all born during 1988-1990. The refraction was measured in cycloplegia, and the spherical equivalent (SE) was calculated. The axial length (AL), anterior chamber depth and corneal radius (CR) were measured, and the AL/CR ratio was calculated.
The mean SE was -0.5 dioptres (D) (SD 2.5) in right eyes (REs) and -0.4 D (SD 2.3) in left eyes (LEs) of preterms, and -0.2 D (SD 1.5) in REs and -0.2 D (SD 1.5) in LEs of controls. The distribution of refraction was wider in the preterm group compared to the control group. In the preterm group, 12% had a SE ≥ 1.5 D, but none of the controls. Ten preterms, but none of the controls, had anisometropia ≥ 1.0 D. The prevalence of astigmatism ≥ 1.0 D was higher in preterms than controls. The SE decreased around 1 D in both preterms and controls from 10 to 25 years of age. The AL and CR were shorter in the preterms; however, the AL/CR ratio was similar in both groups. Within the preterm group, cryotherapy was correlated with astigmatism, but not with SE and anisometropia at this age.
Prematurely born individuals had higher prevalence of refractive errors in young adulthood compared to term-born controls.