PURPOSE To examine changes in spherical equivalent over a 5-year period in persons 43 to 84 years of age.
METHODS All people 43 to 84 years of age and living in Beaver Dam, Wisconsin, in 1988 were invited for a baseline examination (1988-1990) and a 5-year follow-up examination (1993-1995). Refractions were determined according to the same protocol at both examinations. Aphakic and pseudophakic eyes were excluded as well as eyes with best corrected Snellen visual acuity of 20/40 and worse. After exclusions, refraction was obtained on 3007 right eyes and 3012 left eyes of the 3684 people participating in both examinations.
RESULTS Right and left eyes behaved similarly. Spherical equivalent became more positive in the youngest subjects and more negative in older subjects. After adjusting for other factors, the 5-year change in spherical equivalent of those 45, 55, 65, and 75 years of age was +0.15, +0.18, +0.10, and -0.07D, respectively. Severity of nuclear sclerosis was related to the amount of change. Those with mild nuclear sclerosis at baseline had a change of +0.2 D, whereas those with severe nuclear sclerosis had a change of -0.5 D. The amount of change was also related to gender, diabetes, and age at onset of myopia. It was unrelated to education and baseline spherical equivalent.
CONCLUSIONS Changes in spherical equivalent over a 5-year period were small. Before the age of 70, people became more hyperopic. After the age of 70, people became more myopic. Much of the myopic change may be related to increasing nuclear sclerosis.