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Modes of Inheritance of Errors of Refraction
  1. Arnold Sorsby*,
  2. Bernard Benjamin


    Eighteen families in which both parents had refractions within the range of +4·0 D to −4·0 D and axial lengths seen in emmetropia (22·3-26·0 mm) showed coefficients of correlation of the order 0·5 indicative of polygenic inheritance. Such coefficients were seen for axial length (0·407) and for the cornea (0·487), but not for the lens (which is known to be yoked to the axial length). No such coefficients were seen in 19 families in which one of the parents had axial length outside the emmetropic range (nine families with long axes and 10 with short axes).

    The pattern of polygenic inheritance for emmetropia (completely correlated optical components) and errors of refraction up to 4·0 D (inadequately correlated components: correlation ametropia) follows that seen in stature and other measurable characters. In contrast the high refractive errors with their abnormal axial lengths (component ametropia) are—like the extremes in stature—pathological anomalies with monofactorial inheritance.

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    • * Emeritus Research Professor in Ophthalmology, Royal College of Surgeons, Lincolns Inn Fields, London WC2.

    • Director of Studies, Civil Service College, 11 Belgrave Road, London SW1.