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The Association of Astigmatism and Spherical Refractive Error in a High Myopia Cohort


Original Article

Purpose. The purposes of this study were to determine whether the degree of myopia influences the presence and degree of total astigmatism, and to assess risk factors of astigmatism in patients with familial nonsyndromic severe myopia.

Methods. We performed a retrospective study of 217 subjects from families with two or more subjects from successive generations with a myopic spherical refractive error of at least -5 D or greater in one eye. Mean myopic spherical equivalent was -10 D and the mean age of myopia onset was 7 years. Refractive error measurements were obtained and the association between the degree of myopia and cylinder power was examined by correlation analysis.

Results. The prevalence of astigmatism (1.0 D of cylinder) was 36.1%. With-the-rule astigmatism was most common (55.8%), and the majority of astigmats had between 1.0 and 2.5 D of cylinder (77.6%). Statistically significant associations were found between the presence of astigmatism and risk factors of age and the age of myopia onset. In those patients with astigmatism, however, there was a moderate correlation between the degree of spherical equivalent and cylinder power (r = -0.34, p < 0.0001). Younger age (<16 years) (p = 0.03) was associated with higher cylinder power.

Conclusions. In severely myopic patients, there is a high prevalence of astigmatism that is predominantly with-the-rule. The degree of myopic spherical refractive error is correlated with astigmatism severity but is not a risk factor for the presence of astigmatism.

University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania (GH), the Department of Ophthalmology, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania (GY, MGM, TLY), and the Division of Ophthalmology, and The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania (TLY)

T.L.Y. was supported by NEI Grant EY014685, Research to Prevent Blindness Inc., the Mabel E. Leslie Endowed Funds; G.S.Y. and M.G.M. by NEI P30 Core Grant for Vision Research 2PEY01583; and G.H. by NINDS Grant 1-F31-NS 42,705-02.

Received August 24, 2004; accepted January 4, 2005.

© 2005 American Academy of Optometry