Preterm births can cause a host of issues for babies, including ocular problems. Looking further into this association, Turkish researchers found preterm infants who are small for their gestational age appear to be at a greater risk for strabismus, hyperopia and high astigmatism, increasing the need for optical correction.

The team evaluated the eye exam results of three-year-old children screened for retinopathy of prematurity in the neonatal period. The retrospective study included 608 children who were born at about 31 weeks with a birth weight of 1505±435g. About 17% of children in the study were small for their gestational age.

The researchers detected manifest deviation in 42 children (7%), and optical correction was required in 101 (17%). Risk factors for optical correction included children who were small for their gestational age and had mothers who had multiple pregnancies. Additionally, the study found hyperopia of 3.00D or more increased the likelihood of strabismus.

Pediatricians and eye care practitioners should be aware that both children born preterm and those who are small for their gestational age are at high risk for developing strabismus, high hyperopia and high astigmatism and should be closely and regularly examined for amblyogenic risk factors, the study authors concluded in their paper.

Petriçli IS, Kara C, Arman A. Is being small for gestational age a risk factor for strabismus and refractive errors at three years of age? Turk J Pediatr. 2020;62(6):1049-57.