Individuals who are shorter in stature may be at greater risk of developing high spherical diopter powers of 48.00D or greater, which can be a hallmark of keratoconus, according to new research presented at the ARVO 2021 virtual meeting. The researchers from the Icahn School of Medicine Mount Sinai also found that gender seemed to play a role in this relationship, as they observed a higher prevalence in women than men.

Using data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey from 1999 to 2008, the investigators considered participants’ visual exam results, in addition to demographics and other ocular and body measurement information. The study included approximately 170 individuals with the keratoconus trait and about 20,000 controls.

The team used multivariable analyses, in addition to three separate models that assessed the keratoconus trait with BMI, height and weight.

The study reported a strong inverse relationship between height and the keratoconus trait in the pooled population and women. Specifically, for every one-inch increase in height, the researchers observed a 16% reduced risk of the keratoconus trait. In women, this was slightly higher, with a 19% reduced risk of the keratoconus trait for every one-inch increase in height, but the inverse association was borderline in men.

These findings can contribute to improved understanding of the pathogenesis of keratoconus, the study authors concluded.

Vallaru G, Hennick D, Klawe J, et al. Anthropometric measures and their relationship to a keratoconus-like trait in the US population, NHANES 1999-2008. ARVO Meeting 2021.