Optical and biomechanical factors, associated with near work and myopia

Ghosh, Atanu (2012) Optical and biomechanical factors, associated with near work and myopia. PhD thesis, Queensland University of Technology.


Near work may play an important role in the development of myopia in the younger population. The prevalence of myopia has also been found to be higher in occupations that involve substantial near work tasks, for example in microscopists and textile workers. When nearwork is performed, it typically involves accommodation, convergence and downward gaze. A number of previous studies have examined the effects of accommodation and convergence on changes in the optics and biometrics of the eye in primary gaze. However, little is known about the influence of accommodation on the eye in downward gaze. This thesis is primarily concerned with investigating the changes in the eye during near work in downward gaze under natural viewing conditions.

To measure wavefront aberrations in downward gaze under natural viewing conditions, we modified a commercial Shack-Hartmann wavefront sensor by adding a relay lens system to allow on-axis ocular aberration measurements in primary gaze and downward gaze, with binocular fixation. Measurements with the modified wavefront sensor in primary and downward gaze were validated against a conventional aberrometer using both a model eye and in 9 human subjects.

We then conducted an experiment to investigate changes in ocular aberrations associated with accommodation in downward gaze over 10 mins in groups of both myopes (n = 14) and emmetropes (n =12) using the modified Shack-Hartmann wavefront sensor. During the distance accommodation task, small but significant changes in refractive power (myopic shift) and higher order aberrations were observed in downward gaze compared to primary gaze. Accommodation caused greater changes in higher order aberrations (in particular coma and spherical aberration) in downward gaze than primary gaze, and there was evidence that the changes in certain aberrations with accommodation over time were different in downward gaze compared to primary gaze. There were no obvious systematic differences in higher order aberrations between refractive error groups during accommodation or downward gaze for fixed pupils. However, myopes exhibited a significantly greater change in higher order aberrations (in particular spherical aberration) than emmetropes for natural pupils after 10 mins of a near task (5 D accommodation) in downward gaze.

These findings indicated that ocular aberrations change from primary to downward gaze, particularly with accommodation. To understand the mechanism underlying these changes in greater detail, we then extended this work to examine the characteristics of the corneal optics, internal optics, anterior biometrics and axial length of the eye during a near task, in downward gaze, over 10 mins. Twenty young adult subjects (10 emmetropes and 10 myopes) participated in this study. To measure corneal topography and ocular biometrics in downward gaze, a rotating Scheimpflug camera and an optical biometer were inclined on a custom built, height and tilt adjustable table. We found that both corneal optics and internal optics change with downward gaze, resulting in a myopic shift (~0.10 D) in the spherical power of the eye. The changes in corneal optics appear to be due to eyelid pressure on the anterior surface of the cornea, whereas the changes in the internal optics (an increase in axial length and a decrease in anterior chamber depth) may be associated with movement of the crystalline lens, under the action of gravity, and the influence of altered biomechanical forces from the extraocular muscles on the globe with downward gaze. Changes in axial length with accommodation were significantly greater in downward gaze than primary gaze (p < 0.05), indicating an increased effect of the mechanical forces from the ciliary muscle and extraocular muscles.

A subsequent study was conducted to investigate the changes in anterior biometrics, axial length and choroidal thickness in nine cardinal gaze directions under the actions of the extraocular muscles. Ocular biometry measurements were obtained from 30 young adults (10 emmetropes, 10 low myopes and 10 moderate myopes) through a rotating prism with 15° deviation, along the foveal axis, using a non-contact optical biometer in each of nine different cardinal directions of gaze, over 5 mins. There was a significant influence of gaze angle and time on axial length (both p < 0.001), with the greatest axial elongation (+18 ± 8 μm) occurring with infero-nasal gaze (p < 0.001) and a slight decrease in axial length in superior gaze (−12 ± 17 μm) compared with primary gaze (p < 0.001). There was a significant correlation between refractive error (spherical equivalent refraction) and the mean change in axial length in the infero-nasal gaze direction (Pearson's R2 = 0.71, p < 0.001).

To further investigate the relative effect of gravity and extraocular muscle force on the axial length, we measured axial length in 15° and 25° downward gaze with the biometer inclined on a tilting table that allowed gaze shifts to occur with either full head turn but no eye turn (reflects the effect of gravity), or full eye turn with no head turn (reflects the effect of extraocular muscle forces). We observed a significant axial elongation in 15° and 25° downward gaze in the full eye turn condition. However, axial length did not change significantly in downward gaze over 5 mins (p > 0.05) in the full head turn condition. The elongation of the axial length in downward gaze appears to be due to the influence of the extraocular muscles, since the effect was not present when head turn was used instead of eye turn.

The findings of these experiments collectively show the dynamic characteristics of the optics and biometrics of the eye in downward gaze during a near task, over time. These were small but significant differences between myopic and emmetropic eyes in both the optical and biomechanical changes associated with shifts of gaze direction. These differences between myopes and emmetropes could arise as a consequence of excessive eye growth associated with myopia. However the potentially additive effects of repeated or long lasting near work activities employing infero-nasal gaze could also act to promote elongation of the eye due to optical and/or biomechanical stimuli.

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ID Code: 63341
Item Type: QUT Thesis (PhD)
Supervisor: Collins, Michael & Read, Scott
Keywords: accommodation, axial length, cardinal gaze directions, choroidal thickness, downward gaze, extraocular muscles, eyelid pressure, gravity, myopia, near work, non-contact optical biometer, ocular biometrics, scheimpflug imaging system, Shack-Hartmann wavefront sensor, spherical aberration, visual optics, wavefront aberrations
Divisions: Current > QUT Faculties and Divisions > Faculty of Health
Current > Institutes > Institute of Health and Biomedical Innovation
Current > Schools > School of Optometry & Vision Science
Institution: Queensland University of Technology
Deposited On: 14 Oct 2013 05:36
Last Modified: 09 Sep 2015 06:58

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