Individuals born at below-average weight are more likely to suffer from refractive issues in adulthood, according to new research published in the British Journal of Ophthalmology. The study defined low birth weight (BW) as less than 5.5lbs, normal BW as between 5.5lbs and 8.8lbs and high BW as 8.8lbs or more. The researchers looked at 8,369 participants who reported their BWs for the main outcome measures of best-corrected visual acuity (BCVA), spherical equivalent and astigmatism.

After adjusting for age, sex, socioeconomic status and self-reported glaucoma, age-related macular degeneration, corneal disease and cataract, the researchers found an association between low BW and both spherical equivalent and BCVA compared with normal BW. High BW was associated with spherical equivalent, but not visual acuity.

“Individuals with low BW are more likely to have lower visual acuity and a higher myopic refractive error in adulthood,” the study concludes. “Adults with high BW are more likely to have a more hyperopic refractive error.” 

Fieß A, Schuster AK, Nickels S, et al. Association of low birth weight with myopic refractive error and lower visual acuity in adulthood: results from the population-based Gutenberg Health Study (GHS). British Journal of Ophthalmology. March 15, 2018. [Epub ahead of print].