IN VIVO analysis of ocular morphological changes during phakic accommodation

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy


The principal theme of this thesis is the in vivo examination of ocular morphological changes during phakic accommodation, with particular attention paid to the ciliary muscle and crystalline lens. The investigations detailed involved the application of high-resolution imaging techniques to facilitate the acquisition of new data to assist in the clarification of aspects of the accommodative system that were poorly understood. A clinical evaluation of the newly available Grand Seiko Auto Ref/ Keratometer WAM-5500 optometer was undertaken to assess its value in the field of accommodation research. The device was found to be accurate and repeatable compared to subjective refraction, and has the added advantage of allowing dynamic data collection at a frequency of around 5 Hz. All of the subsequent investigations applied the WAM-5500 for determination of refractive error and objective accommodative responses. Anterior segment optical coherence tomography (AS-OCT) based studies examined the morphology and contractile response of youthful and ageing ciliary muscle. Nasal versus temporal asymmetry was identified, with the temporal aspect being both thicker and demonstrating a greater contractile response. The ciliary muscle was longer in terms of both its anterior (r = 0.49, P <0.001) and overall length (r = 0.45, P = 0.02) characteristics, in myopes. The myopic ciliary muscle does not appear to be merely stretched during axial elongation, as no significant relationship between thickness and refractive error was identified. The main contractile responses observed were a thickening of the anterior region and a shortening of the muscle, particularly anteriorly. Similar patterns of response were observed in subjects aged up to 70 years, supporting a lensocentric theory of presbyopia development. Following the discovery of nasal/ temporal asymmetry in ciliary muscle morphology and response, an investigation was conducted to explore whether the regional variations in muscle contractility impacted on lens stability during accommodation. A bespoke programme was developed to analyse AS-OCT images and determine whether lens tilt and decentration varied between the relaxed and accommodated states. No significant accommodative difference in these parameters was identified, implying that any changes in lens stability with accommodation are very slight, as a possible consequence of vitreous support. Novel three-dimensional magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and analysis techniques were used to investigate changes in lens morphology and ocular conformation during accommodation. An accommodative reduction in lens equatorial diameter provides further evidence to support the Helmholtzian mechanism of accommodation, whilst the observed increase in lens volume challenges the widespread assertion that this structure is incompressible due to its high water content. Wholeeye MRI indicated that the volume of the vitreous chamber remains constant during accommodation. No significant changes in ocular conformation were detected using MRI. The investigations detailed provide further insight into the mechanisms of accommodation and presbyopia, and represent a platform for future work in this field.
Date of AwardNov 2010
Original languageEnglish
SupervisorLeon Davies (Supervisor), Mark Dunne (Supervisor) & James Wolffsohn (Supervisor)


  • Accommodation
  • ciliary muscle
  • crystalline lens
  • ocular imaging
  • presbyopia.

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