Factors affecting the accommodative response to sustained visual tasks

  • Mark A. Bullimore

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy


In the absence of adequate visual stimulation accommodation adopts an intermediate resting position, appropriately termed tonic accommodation (TA). A period of sustained fixation can modify the tonic resting position, and indicate the adaptation properties of TA. This thesis investigates various factors contributing to the accommodative response during sustained visual tasks, in particular the adaptation of TA. Objective infra-red optometry was chosen as the most effective method of measurement of accommodation. This technique was compared with other methods of measuring TA and the results found to be well correlated. The inhibitory sympathetic input to the ciliary muscle provides the facility to attenuate the magnitude and duration of adaptive changes in TA. This facility is, however, restricted to those individuals having relatively high levels of pre-task TA. Furthermore, the facility is augmented by substantial levels of concurrent parasympathetic activity. The imposition of mental effort can induce concurrent changes in TA which are predominantly positive and largely the result of an increase in parasympathetic innervation of the ciliary muscle although there is some evidence for sympathetic attentuation at higher levels of TA. In emmetropes sympathetic inhibition can modify the effect of mental effort on the steady-state accommodative response at near. Late-onset myopes (onset after the age of 15 years) have significantlylower values of TA then emmetropes. Similarly, late-onset myopes show lower values of steady-state accommodative response for nearstimuli. The imposition of mental effort induces concurrent increases in TA and steady-state accommodative response in the myopic group which are significantly greater than those for emmetropes. Estimates of TA made under bright empty-field conditions are well correlated with those made under darkroom conditions. The method by which the accommodative loop is opened has no significant effect on the magnitude and duration of post-task shifts in TA induced by a near vision task. Significant differences in the post-task shifts in TA induced by a near vision task exist between emmetropes and late-onset myopes, the post-task shifts being more sustained for the myopic group.
Date of AwardAug 1987
Original languageEnglish
SupervisorBernard Gilmartin (Supervisor)


  • adaption of tonic accommodstion
  • sustained tear-vision
  • myopia
  • ciliary muscle innervation
  • infra-red optometry

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