Is pupil diameter influenced by refractive error?

Janis B. Orr*, Dirk Seidel, Mhairi Day, Lyle S. Gray

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Purpose: To investigate the relationship between pupil diameter and refractive error and how refractive correction, target luminance, and accommodation modulate this relationship. Methods: Sixty emmetropic, myopic, and hyperopic subjects (age range, 18 to 35 years) viewed an illuminated target (luminance: 10, 100, 200, 400, 1000, 2000, and 4100 cd/m2) within a Badal optical system, at 0 diopters (D) and −3 D vergence, with and without refractive correction. Refractive error was corrected using daily disposable contact lenses. Pupil diameter and accommodation were recorded continuously using a commercially available photorefractor. Results: No significant difference in pupil diameter was found between the refractive groups at 0 D or −3 D target vergence, in the corrected or uncorrected conditions. As expected, pupil diameter decreased with increasing luminance. Target vergence had no significant influence on pupil diameter. In the corrected condition, at 0 D target vergence, the accommodation response was similar in all refractive groups. At −3 D target vergence, the emmetropic and myopic groups accommodated significantly more than the hyperopic group at all luminance levels. There was no correlation between accommodation response and pupil diameter or refractive error in any refractive group. In the uncorrected condition, the accommodation response was significantly greater in the hyperopic group than in the myopic group at all luminance levels, particularly for near viewing. In the hyperopic group, the accommodation response was significantly correlated with refractive error but not pupil diameter. In the myopic group, accommodation response level was not correlated with refractive error or pupil diameter. Conclusions: Refractive error has no influence on pupil diameter, irrespective of refractive correction or accommodative demand. This suggests that the pupil is controlled by the pupillary light reflex and is not driven by retinal blur.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)834-840
Number of pages7
JournalOptometry and Vision Science
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - 31 Jul 2015


  • ocular accommodation
  • myopia
  • optical quality
  • pupil
  • refractive errors


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