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Central macular thickness is correlated with gestational age at birth in prematurely born children
  1. Hanna Åkerblom,
  2. Eva Larsson,
  3. Urban Eriksson,
  4. Gerd Holmström
  1. Department of Neuroscience, Uppsala University, Uppsala, Sweden
  1. Correspondence to Professor Gerd Holmström, Department of Ophthalmology, University Hospital, 751 85 Uppsala, Sweden; gerd.holmstrom{at}


Background/aim Previous studies have revealed various subnormal visual functions in prematurely born children. The present study aimed to determine the retinal macular thickness in prematurely born children and compare with children born at term.

Methods The eyes of 65 prematurely born children aged 5–16 years were examined with Stratus optical coherence tomography (OCT) 3, and the results were compared with those of 55 children born at term. The retinal macular thickness in the nine EDTRS macular areas (A1–A9), the foveal minimum and the total macular volume were determined.

Results The central macular thickness (A1 and foveal minimum) was significantly thicker in the prematurely born children than in those born at term. There was no correlation between macular thickness and visual acuity or refraction. Children with previous retinopathy of prematurity (ROP) had significantly thicker central maculae than those without it. Prematurely born children without previous ROP had significantly thicker central maculae than the control group. Multiple regression analyses showed that gestational age at birth was the only risk factor for a thick central macula.

Conclusion Prematurely born children had thicker central maculae than those born at term. Regardless of ROP, the degree of prematurity was the most important risk factor for abnormal foveal development.

  • Macula
  • embryology and development
  • child health (paediatrics)

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  • Funding The study was supported by the Crown Princess Margareta Foundation for Visually Impaired, The Mayflower Charity Foundation for Children and the Swedish Society for Medicine.

  • Competing interests None.

  • Ethics approval Ethics approval was provided by the Ethics Committee of Uppsala University.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

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