Axial Length and Anterior Segment Alterations in Former Preterm Infants and Full-Term Neonates Analyzed With Scheimpflug Imaging

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Purpose:To compare the axial length and anterior segment alterations in preterm infants with and without retinopathy of prematurity with those of full-term infants.Methods:The Wiesbaden Prematurity Study investigated 503 participants of former gestational age ≤32 weeks and gestational age ≥37 weeks now being aged 4 to 10 years. This study included 485 participants in the prospective controlled cross-sectional, hospital-based study with successful Pentacam Scheimpflug imaging. Anterior segment parameters, axial length measurements, and associated factors were analyzed.Results:Corneal thickness did not differ between former preterm and full-term infants. Significant differences were found between preterm and full-term infants now aged ≤7 years for spherical equivalent, astigmatism, corneal diameter, and axial length. In preterm infants aged ≥8 years compared with full terms of the same age, we found a significant difference only in the corneal diameter. In multivariable analysis of the corneal diameter, we detected an association with birth weight and perinatal adverse events. Astigmatism correlated with birth weight and laser treatment, anterior chamber depth with birth weight, laser treatment and age at examination, and axial length with birth weight and age at examination.Conclusions:This study demonstrated altered axial length and anterior segment morphology in former preterm infants, especially in the first years of life. In addition, we observed that preterm infants seemed to catch up, so that the differences in ocular growth in terms of spherical equivalent, astigmatism, and axial length decreased within the first 8 years of life.

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