October 1998
Volume 39, Issue 11
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Articles  |   October 1998
Eye elongation during accommodation in humans: differences between emmetropes and myopes.
Author Affiliations
  • W Drexler
    Institute of Medical Physics, University of Vienna, Austria.
  • O Findl
    Institute of Medical Physics, University of Vienna, Austria.
  • L Schmetterer
    Institute of Medical Physics, University of Vienna, Austria.
  • C K Hitzenberger
    Institute of Medical Physics, University of Vienna, Austria.
  • A F Fercher
    Institute of Medical Physics, University of Vienna, Austria.
Investigative Ophthalmology & Visual Science October 1998, Vol.39, 2140-2147. doi:
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      W Drexler, O Findl, L Schmetterer, C K Hitzenberger, A F Fercher; Eye elongation during accommodation in humans: differences between emmetropes and myopes.. Invest. Ophthalmol. Vis. Sci. 1998;39(11):2140-2147.

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      © 2015 Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology.

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PURPOSE: The pathophysiology and pathogenesis of myopia are still a matter of controversy. Exaggerated longitudinal eye growth is assumed to play an important role in the development of myopia. A significant correlation between refraction and amount of near-work has been reported. However, current knowledge of changes of axial eye length with accommodation is limited because clinical ultrasound biometry does not provide the precision and resolution required to thoroughly investigate these phenomena. METHODS: Partial coherence interferometry (PCI), a noninvasive biometric technique, uses laser light with short coherence length in combination with interferometry to achieve precision in the micrometer to submicrometer range and resolution of 10 microm. In the present study this technique was used to investigate axial eye length changes in 11 emmetropic and 12 myopic eyes during monocular fixation at the far and near point. In 7 subjects, the contralateral eye has also been measured to investigate interocular differences in eye elongation. RESULTS: All investigated eyes elongated during accommodation. This elongation was more pronounced in emmetropes than in myopes (P < 0.001). Mean accommodation-induced eye elongations of 12.7 microm (range, 8.6-19.2 microm) and 5.2 microm (range, 2.1-9.5 microm), corresponding to a dioptric change of approximately -0.036 D and -0.015 D, were obtained for emmetropes and myopes. No significant difference in accommodative amplitudes between groups (5.1 +/- 1.2 D [range, 3.8-7.1 D] versus 4.1 +/- 2.0 D [range, 1.0-7.1 D]; P = 0.14) was detected. No significant interocular difference in accommodation-induced eye elongation was revealed (P = 0.86). Also, a mean backward movement of the posterior lens pole of 38 microm (range, 9-107 microm) was observed in both study groups. CONCLUSIONS: The detected eye elongation can be explained by the accommodation-induced contraction of the ciliary muscle, which results in forward and inward pulling of the choroid, thus decreasing the circumference of the sclera, and leads to an elongation of the axial eye length. Finally, it was demonstrated that PCI, in contrast to clinical ultrasound, is capable of characterizing eye length changes during accommodation in humans.

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