PURPOSE: To test Sorsby's classical statement of axial eye growth as completed at the age of 13 years, with a view also to differentiating between basic eye growth and juvenile elongation associated with eventual refractive change towards myopia.
METHODS: (i) A total of 160 healthy eyes close to emmetropia were included in a cross-sectional set-up (age 4-20 years, 91 males, 69 females), and (ii) 78 longitudinal data sets (67 male and 11 female annual repeat exams over 2-7 years, n=30; age span 4-19 years) were available for evaluating individual axial elongation. The IOL-Master equipment was preferred for conventional ultrasound oculometry due to its extreme repeatability of measuring values, thus making it well fitted for evaluating very small differences. In particular, this had bearing for the decelerating end phase of growth in the longitudinal investigation.
RESULTS: Sorby's statement about age 13 as general limit found support from the cross-sectional data, which suggested stable emmetropic eye size from about 11-12 years, with an average apparently outgrown male emmetropic value of 23.5 mm versus females' 22.9 mm. The longitudinal data, however, showed emmetropic growth also beyond this age, with individual data to establish continued axial elongation also at age 13-18 years. The final basic teenage growth is however minute and without practical implications.
CONCLUSIONS: Individual ocular growth curves have indicated axial elongation to occur also after the age of 13 years. With regard to the - mainly academic - discrepancy between cross-sectional and longitudinal results, bigger samples are needed, and the juvenile myopic trend has to be acknowledged.