Purpose: To examine quantitatively characteristics of the peripapillary retinal nerve fiber layer (RNFL) in preterm children using Fourier-domain optical coherence tomography (FD-OCT). Design: Prospective cross-sectional study. Methods: A 3-mm high-resolution FD-OCT peripapillary RNFL circular scan centered on the optic disc was obtained from right eyes of 25 preterm children (10.6 ± 3.7 years old, 8 preterm and 17 with regressed retinopathy of prematurity with normal-appearing posterior poles) and 54 full-term controls (9.8 ± 3.2 years old). Images were analyzed using Spectralis FD-OCT software to obtain average thickness measurements for 6 sectors (temporal superior, temporal, temporal inferior, nasal inferior, nasal, nasal superior), and the global average. Results: The RNFL global average for preterm children was 8% thinner than for full-term controls. In the preterm group, peripapillary RNFL thickness on the temporal side of the disc was 6% thicker than in full-term controls, while all other peripapillary RNFL sectors were 9% to 13% thinner. In the preterm group, temporal sector peripapillary RNFL thickness was correlated with gestational age (r = -0.47, P <.001), with foveal center total thickness (r = 0.48, P =.008, 1-tailed), and with visual acuity (r = 0.42; P =.026, 1-tailed). Conclusions: The significantly thinner RNFL global average for preterm children suggests that prematurity is associated with subclinical optic nerve hypoplasia. Significant correlations between temporal sector RNFL thickness and both the foveal thickness and visual acuity suggest that the peripapillary RNFL is related to abnormalities in macular development as a result of preterm birth.
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