Studies of the crystalline lens using magnetic resonance imaging

Jones, Catherine Elizabeth (2004) Studies of the crystalline lens using magnetic resonance imaging. PhD thesis, Queensland University of Technology.


The eye lens grows continuously throughout life and changes its shape as the eye changes focus from a distant to a near object (the process of accommodation). These changes are complex because they may affect not only the shape of the lens, but also its refractive index distribution. To date there has been no satisfactory technique for directly and non-invasively measuring these changes. In this study the refractive index distribution through the isolated lens was measured non-invasively using a novel MRI technique.

The dependence of the refractive index value of lens tissue on its transverse relaxation rate (R2) was determined empirically from measurements on lens homogenate samples. Using a multi-spin-echo imaging sequence, data were

acquired for constructing R2 maps of a central slice through the isolated lens. These R2 maps were transformed to refractive index maps using the empirically determined dependence of refractive index on R2. Using a standard algorithm for ray tracing through gradient index media, the propagation of light rays through the index map were simulated. The optical properties of the lens, such as focal length, were then

measured. The technique was validated by also directly measuring the focal length of each lens using laser ray tracing.

The subtle changes in refractive index distribution that are responsible for the

dramatic change in the optical properties of the isolated lens with age, were observed for the first time. The decrease in surface power of the isolated lens with age accounted only partially for the decrease in total lens power with age, the remainder resulting from a reduction in the gradient of refractive index (GRIN) power. It is

likely that this reduction in GFUN power is the mechanism by which the eye maintains emmetropia (good distant vision) with age despite the increasing curvature of its surfaces. The reduction in the GRIN power of the lens was found to be mainly due to a flattening of the refractive index profile in the central region of the lens, accompanied by steepening of the profile near the edge of the lens. In agreement

with a previous MRI study of the isolated human eye lens, this study found a decrease in the refractive index of the nucleus with age. However the age related change in this study was not as large and not found to be statistically significant.

The results demonstrate that existing simple models for the optics of the eye lens are

inadequate to accurately describe its properties. Several more sophisticated models

were considered in an attempt to describe better the age-dependent changes that occur in both the power of the lens and its longitudinal aberration. Mathematical modelling was also used to simulate the accommodative process and investigate possible changes in the index distribution of the lens that may occur with


A preliminary in vivo study was performed aimed at observing the change in the refractive index distribution of the eye lens with age and accommodation. These results demonstrated the feasibility of the technique for in vivo applications and showed that within experimental error there is little change in the central refractive index of the lens with age. However the resolution achievable with standard clinical

imaging sequences and signal detection hardware was not optimal for in vivo refractive index mapping of changes in the human eye lens with accommodation. Finally therefore, methods for refining the technique for in vivo applications are discussed which may make it possible to directly and simultaneously measure both

the shape and refractive index distribution of the lens with age and accommodation.

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ID Code: 15950
Item Type: QUT Thesis (PhD)
Supervisor: Pope, James
Keywords: eye lens, crystalline lens, crystallins, lens paradox, MRI, NMR, protein concentration, gradient index, refractive index map, T1, T2, relaxation, multi-echo imaging.
Divisions: Past > QUT Faculties & Divisions > Faculty of Science and Technology
Past > Schools > School of Physical & Chemical Sciences
Department: Faculty of Science
Institution: Queensland University of Technology
Copyright Owner: Copyright Catherine Elizabeth Jones
Deposited On: 03 Dec 2008 03:53
Last Modified: 22 Mar 2016 06:10

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