Myopia: Anatomic Changes and Consequences for Its Etiology

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The process of emmetropization is the adjustment of the length of the optical axis to the given optical properties of the cornea and lens after the end of the second year of life. Up to the end of the second year of life, the eye grows spherically. Axial elongation in the process of emmetropization after the second year of life is associated with a thinning of the retina and a reduced density of retinal pigment epithelium (RPE) cells in the equatorial and retroequatorial region, and a thinning of the choroid and sclera, starting at the equator and being most marked at the posterior pole. In contrast, retinal thickness and RPE density in the macular region and thickness of Bruch membrane (BM) in any region are independent of axial length. It led to the hypothesis that axial elongation occurs by the production of additional BM in the equatorial and retroequatorial region leading to a decreased RPE density and retinal thinning in that region and a more tube-like than spherical enlargement of the globe, without compromise in the density of the macular RPE cells and in macular retinal thickness. The increased disc-fovea distance in axially myopic eyes is caused by the development and enlargement of parapapillary, BM-free, gamma zone, whereas the length of macular BM, and indirectly macular RPE cell density, and macular retinal thickness, remain constant.

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