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  • Choroidal Thickness and Systemic Health of Preterm Infants

    By Jean Shaw
    Selected by Emily Y. Chew, MD

    Journal Highlights

    Ophthalmology Science, June 2021

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    Michalak et al. used handheld OCT to analyze the impact of systemic health factors on choroidal thickness in preterm infants. They found that a thinner choroid in these infants may be related to a slower growth rate in the first weeks of life and the need for prolonged use of supplemental oxygen.

    The researchers enrolled 118 preterm infants as part of the prospective, longitudinal BabySTEPS study. Both eyes of the infants were imaged with a handheld investigational swept-source OCT system at multiple time points during their stay in the intensive care nursery. Custom segmentation software was used to delineate the central 1 mm subfoveal choroidal thickness on OCT images. Errors in segmentation were manually corrected. Univariable and multivariable linear regression analy­ses were performed to evaluate factors associated with choroidal thickness. Maternal and infant clinical health data were collected. The main outcome was the association between infant health factors and choroidal thickness.

    For this analysis, data were used from 85 infants (170 eyes) at 36 ± 1 weeks postmenstrual age (PMA). Subfoveal choroidal thickness could be measured in 82 of the 85 infants (159 eyes). Mean choroidal thickness was 233 ± 75 μm. The infants’ mean birth weight was 968 ± 271 g, and their mean gestational age was 28 ± 2 weeks.

    The results showed that a thinner choroid is independently associated with slower postnatal growth velocity and the use of supplemental oxygen. In addition, a thinner choroid was associated with several other systemic health conditions, including baseline health metrics and cardiac and pulmo­nary abnormalities. Of these, the most common systemic factors were pulmo­nary and were related to the need for supplemental oxygen, which was the one statistically significant factor in the multivariable analyses.

    As BabySTEPs is a longitudinal study, these children will be studied up to school age, with follow-up data on visual outcomes to be published at that time.

    The original article can be found here.