Purpose: To describe the long-term refractive error changes in children diagnosed with intermittent exotropia (IXT) in a defined population. Design: Retrospective, population-based observational study. Methods: Using the resources of the Rochester Epidemiology Project, the medical records of all children (<19 years) diagnosed with IXT as residents of Olmsted County, Minnesota, from January 1, 1975 through December 31, 1994 were retrospectively reviewed for any change in refractive error over time. Results: One hundred eighty-four children were diagnosed with IXT during the 20-year study period; 135 (73.4%) had 2 or more refractions separated by a mean of 10 years (range, 1-27 years). The Kaplan-Meier rate of developing myopia in this population was 7.4% by 5 years of age, 46.5% by 10 years, and 91.1% by 20 years. There were 106 patients with 2 or more refractions separated by at least 1 year through 21 years of age, of which 43 underwent surgery and 63 were observed. The annual overall progression was -0.26 diopters (SD ± 0.24) without a statistically significant difference between the observed and surgical groups (P = .59). Conclusion: In this population-based study of children with intermittent exotropia, myopia was calculated to occur in more than 90% of patients by 20 years of age. Observation versus surgical correction did not alter the refractive outcome.
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