Optical and structural ocular changes during incipient presbyopia

  • Deborah Laughton

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy


The primary aim of this thesis was to investigate the in vivo ocular morphological and contractile changes occurring within the accommodative apparatus prior to the onset of presbyopia, with particular reference to ciliary muscle changes with age and the origin of a myopic shift in refraction during incipient presbyopia.
Commissioned semi-automated software proved capable of extracting accurate and repeatable measurements from crystalline lens and ciliary muscle Anterior Segment Optical Coherence Tomography (AS-OCT) images and reduced the subjectivity of AS-OCT image analysis.
AS-OCT was utilised to document longitudinal changes in ciliary muscle morphology within an incipient presbyopic population (n=51). A significant antero-inwards shift of ciliary muscle mass was observed after 2.5 years. Furthermore, in a subgroup study (n=20), an accommodative antero-inwards movement of ciliary muscle mass was evident. After 2.5 years, the centripetal response of the ciliary muscle significantly attenuated during accommodation, whereas the antero-posterior mobility of the ciliary muscle remained invariant.
Additionally, longitudinal measurement of ocular biometry revealed a significant increase in crystalline lens thickness and a corresponding decrease in anterior chamber depth after 2.5 years (n=51). Lenticular changes appear to be determinant of changes in refraction during incipient presbyopia. During accommodation, a significant increase in crystalline lens thickness and axial length was observed, whereas anterior chamber depth decreased (n=20). The change in ocular biometry per dioptre of accommodation exerted remained invariant after 2.5 years.
Cross-sectional ocular biometric data were collected to quantify accommodative axial length changes from early adulthood to advanced presbyopia (n=72). Accommodative axial length elongation significantly attenuated during presbyopia, which was consistent with a significant increase in ocular rigidity during presbyopia.
The studies presented in this thesis support the Helmholtz theory of accommodation and despite the reduction in centripetal ciliary muscle contractile response with age, primarily implicate lenticular changes in the development of presbyopia.
Date of Award4 Mar 2015
Original languageEnglish
SupervisorAmy Sheppard (Supervisor) & Leon Davies (Supervisor)


  • accommodation
  • ciliary muscle
  • crystalline lens
  • myopia
  • presbyopia

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