PURPOSE. Although astigmatism is prevalent during early infancy, the influence of astigmatism on early refractive development is unclear. This study was undertaken to determine the effects of astigmatism on emmetropization in monkeys. METHODS. Infant rhesus monkeys (n = 39) were exposed to optically simulated astigmatism in one or both eyes from approximately 1 to 4 months of age. With-the-rule, against-the-rule, and oblique astigmatisms were optically simulated by appropriately orienting the principal meridians of the spherocylindrical treatment lenses (+1.50 -3.00 D × 90°, 180°, 45°, or 135°; i.e., +1.50 and -1.50 D powers in the two principal meridians). Refractive development was assessed every 2 to 3 weeks by cycloplegic retinoscopy, keratometry and comeal videotopography, and A-scan ultrasonography. Data from 19 control monkeys, including 3 animals that were reared with binocular plano lenses, were used for comparison purposes. RESULTS. Most of the cylinder-lens-reared monkeys, regardless of the orientation of the imposed astigmatism, showed clear signs of either hyperopic or myopic growth compared with control monkeys. The distributions of refractive error and vitreous chamber depth both showed bimodal patterns that differed from normal by amounts equivalent to the optical powers of the principal meridians of the treatment lenses. More frequently, refractive development was biased toward the eye's least-hyperopic focal plane. The refractive changes were mainly axial. After lens removal, the lens-reared monkeys recovered and as a group exhibited refractive errors and axial dimensions similar to those in control monkeys. CONCLUSIONS. In the presence of significant amounts of astigmatism, emmetropization is directed toward one of the two focal planes associated with the astigmatic principal meridians and not the circle of least confusion. These results suggest that the mechanisms responsible for emmetropization are insensitive to stimulus orientation and the global form of the retinal image. It appears that emmetropization seeks out the image' plane that contains the maximum effective contrast integrated across spatial frequency and stimulus orientation.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Sensory Systems
- Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience