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R P Hemenger, L F Garner, C S Ooi; Change with age of the refractive index gradient of the human ocular lens.. Invest. Ophthalmol. Vis. Sci. 1995;36(3):703-707. doi: https://doi.org/.
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PURPOSE: To study age-related changes in the refractive index distribution of the human ocular lens. METHODS: Biometric data collected on 48 eyes in subjects ranging in age from 19 to 31 years and 48 eyes in subjects ranging in age from 49 to 61 years allowed estimation of a single parameter related to the refractive index distribution of the crystalline lens. The authors selected a gradient index model of the lens characterized by a fixed index at the lens center, a somewhat lower fixed index at the surface, and a continuum of index values between center and surface depending on a single parameter, beta. This parameter was evaluated for each of the two age groups. RESULTS: The distributions of the gradient index parameter beta for the two age groups were found to be statistically well separated. On average, the older group was found to have an index gradient that was flatter near the lens center and steeper near the surface, implying a lower refractive power of about 2 D for representative lens surface curvatures. CONCLUSIONS: It has been observed that surface curvatures and thicknesses of the ocular lens increase with age, whereas other ocular dimensions apparently do not change, implying a trend toward myopia. This trend has not been observed. The authors' results are consistent with and strongly in support of the hypothesis that subtle index changes in the aging lens compensate to a large extent for changes in surface curvatures.
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