PURPOSE. In vitro studies found that 17β-estradiol (estrogen) modulates corneal biomechanical properties and reduces tissue stiffness. Therefore we hypothesized that topical estrogen might affect the refractive properties of the cornea, inducing a myopic shift. METHODS. Twelve female New Zealand white rabbits 16 weeks old were used. The rabbits were randomly divided to either the treatment group receiving 1.5% (w/v) estrogen eye drops or a control group receiving vehicle only (n = 6 each group). Both groups were given drops (50 μL) to the right eye every 12 hours for 35 days. Ocular examination, pachymetry, intraocular pressure (IOP), keratometry,and refraction were evaluated at baseline and on a weekly basis. RESULTS. No significant differences were observed between the two groups at baseline in all outcome measures. Both groups displayed corneal flattening and a hyperopic shift. However, the change rate was slower in the treatment group. Repeated measurements analysis revealed a statistically significant difference in keratometry readings between groups (P = 0.034) with steeper keratometry by up to 0.6 diopters in the treatment group. The difference between the two groups diminished and became statistically insignificant after treatment cessation. No significant changes were observed in IOP and pachymetry throughout the study period. No side effects were observed in either group. CONCLUSIONS. Estrogen eye drops induced a myopic shift in keratometry readings. These results suggest that corneal refractive power might be manipulated pharmacologically. Further studies on the physiology behind this change are warranted to facilitate a pathway for development of novel pharmacologic treatments to correct refractive errors.
- Myopic shift