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Axial length elongation profiles from 3 to 6 years in an Asian paediatric population: the Growing Up in Singapore Towards Healthy Outcomes birth cohort study (GUSTO).

AIMS: To determine axial length (AL) elongation profiles in children aged 3-6 years in an Asian population.

METHODS: Eligible subjects were recruited from the Growing Up in Singapore Towards Healthy Outcomes birth cohort. AL measurement was performed using IOLMaster (Carl Zeiss Meditec, Jena, Germany) at 3 and 6 years. Anthropometric measurements at birth, cycloplegic refraction at 3 and 6 years, questionnaires on the children's behavioural habits at 2 years and parental spherical equivalent refraction were performed. Multivariable linear regression model with generalised estimating equation was performed to determine factors associated with AL elongation.

RESULTS: 273 eyes of 194 children were included. The mean AL increased from 21.72±0.59 mm at 3 years to 22.52±0.66 mm at 6 years (p<0.001). Myopic eyes at 6 years had greater AL elongation (1.02±0.34 mm) compared with emmetropic eyes (0.85±0.25 mm, p=0.008) and hyperopic eyes (0.74±0.16 mm, p<0.001). The 95th percentile limit of AL elongation was 1.59 mm in myopes, 1.34 mm in emmetropes and 1.00 mm in hyperopes. Greater birth weight (per 100 g, β=0.010, p=0.02) was significantly associated with greater AL elongation from 3 to 6 years, while parental and other behavioural factors assessed at 2 years were not (all p≥0.08).

CONCLUSION: In this preschool cohort, AL elongates at an average length of 0.80 mm from 3 to 6 years, with myopes demonstrating the greatest elongation. The differences in 95th percentile limits for AL elongation between myopes, emmetropes and hyperopes can be valuable information in identifying myopia development in preschool children.

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