Aspects of tonic accommodation and tonic vergence

  • Robert E. Hogan

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy


Under conditions of reduced visual stimulation, the systems of accommodation and vergence tend towards physiological resting states that are intermediate within their functional range. The terms tonic accommodation (TA) and tonic vergence (TV) are used in the study to describe these stimulus-free, intermediate adjustments and to represent the systems as being in a state of innervational tonicity. The literature relating to TA and TV and the various experiments of this thesis are reviewed.
Methodology has been developed enabling the determination of TA and TV under conditions of total darknessl laser optometry for TA and ~ernier-alignment for TV. The thesis describes a series of experiments designed to investigate various aspects of TA and TV, and their role in ametropia, binocular vision and their adaptation to sustained visual tasks. Measurements of TA were also utilised to investigate the effect of various autonomic effector drugs on the ciliary muscle.
The effects of ethanol on binocular function are shown to be directly proportional to the .initial level of TVJ which is itself unaffected. These results support the concept of TV as the reference point for normal vergence responses. The results of the pharmacological investigations indicate the presence of a small but significant, beta-receptor mediated inhibitory sympathetic input to the ciliary muscle, and that the wide distribution in TA is a consequence of inter-observer variations in parasympathetic, rather than sympathetic tone.
Following interaction with visual tasks of t5mins duration, the levels of TA and TV are found to be biased in the direction of, and proportional to, the task position: except during near-task viewing where the task-to-TA stimulus-distance exceeds 1.5D (for TA) and 3.5deg (for TV). Under these conditions the expected level of bias is attenuated, Adaptive models are discussed, proposing TA and TV as the reference points of the accommodative and vergence system.
Date of Award1985
Original languageEnglish
SupervisorBernard Gilmartin (Supervisor)


  • tonic accommodation
  • tonic vergence
  • oculomotor stress
  • autonomic pharmacology
  • tonic adaptation

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