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We investigated the relationship between visual acuity, early growth and eye disease in a retrospective cohort study of 700 individuals in North Hertfordshire. Records of birth weight and weight at one year were used to determine early growth. We measured visual acuity and age-related eye diseases using standard instruments in those same individuals (now aged 63 to 73). Visual acuity below the legal threshold for driving in the UK (6/11 or poorer) was present in 13% of subjects. There was no clear association between birth weight or weight at one year and visual acuity. Vision impairment was found to be associated with refractive error, cataract, age-related maculopathy, and elevated macular threshold. After controlling for the effects of eye disease, increasing age remained a significant predictor of poorer visual acuity.

Original publication




Journal article


Ophthalmic epidemiology

Publication Date





83 - 90


MRC Environmental Epidemiology Unit, Southampton General Hospital, Hants, UK.


Humans, Eye Diseases, Body Weight, Birth Weight, Prognosis, Prevalence, Retrospective Studies, Cohort Studies, Aging, Visual Acuity, Aged, Middle Aged, Female, Male, United Kingdom