Percentile curves of refractive development for German children were generated. We hypothesize that refraction in children in central Europe might differ from data in central Asia.
Non-cycloplegic refraction was measured using the ZEISS i.Profiler plus (Carl Zeiss Vision GmbH, Germany) in 1999 children, of which were 1046 male and 953 female, aged 3 to 18 years. Reference curves were calculated with the R-package GAMLSS as continuous function of age.
There were only little differences for all centiles between the genders at 3 years and a general trend towards more myopia with increasing age. For the 97th centile and the 3rd centile, girls showed higher myopia/ less hyperopia than boys. Between the age of 3 and 18, the median refraction became -0.68 D and -0.74 D more myopic for boys and girls, respectively. At the same time, the 97th centile for boys changed +0.29 D towards hyperopia and in girls -0.52 D towards myopia. A general myopic trend was seen in the 3rd centile, which was -2.46 D for boys and -2.98 D for girls. For both genders, the median became less than zero at the age of 10 years but did not become myopic (less than -0.5 D) up to the age of 18.
Our analysis presents the first reference curve for refraction in central Europe. In comparison to data from China and Korea, there is only little difference at the age of 5 years in all centiles which then increases continuously. For all ethnicities, a trend towards myopia with increasing age could be observed, but myopia progression is much higher in China and Korea than in Germany. The most marked differences can be seen in the lower centiles. Further investigations should clarify whether commencement of preschool activities with prolonged near-work initiates the divergence in refractive development.