Meta-analysis of ocular axial length in newborns and infants up to 3 years of age

Annabel L. W. Groot*, Birgit I. Lissenberg-Witte, Laurentius J. van Rijn, Dyonne T. Hartong

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articleAcademicpeer-review


In pediatric ophthalmology it is often necessary to obtain axial length in young children. For children older than 3 years, noncontact biometry can be used. For younger children this is usually not an option, and the clinician needs to rely on other imaging modalities. Depicted data curves in textbooks elaborate on few studies and limited number of subjects. The existing literature regarding normal axial length for preterm infants and term newborns is summarized and critically appraised for number of subjects, relevance, measurement method and error, gender and retinopathy of prematurity. We obtained axial length measurements for a total number of 6,575 eyes in 27 papers published from 1964 to 2018 (9 papers with 2,272 eyes for preterm children, 24 papers with 4,303 eyes for term children). Initially, axial length increases rapidly: from a mean 5.1–16.2 mm in week 12 to week 37 gestational age. From 38 weeks, growth rate decreases from 16.2 mm to a mean of 21.8 mm at 3 years old. Male infants have a larger average axial length than females at birth; the difference is 0.24 mm (95%CI: 0.15–0.33, P < 0.001). We present a useful growth curve and formula that may serve as a reference for diagnosing abnormal growth.

Original languageEnglish
JournalSurvey of ophthalmology
Early online date2021
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 2021

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