Time Course of Pupil Center Location after Ocular Drug Application

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To investigate the time course of pupil centration after application of common topical ocular drugs.


Single drops of 2.5% phenylephrine hydrochloride, 1% tropicamide, and 2% pilocarpine hydrochloride were applied on different days to the right eyes of 12 participants. Anterior eye images were captured, at 5-min intervals for an hour, using an infrared-sensitive camera. The images were analyzed to determine pupil diameter and pupil center, the latter with respect to the limbal center. As a control, natural pupil size and pupil center were determined under different illuminances.


Pupil centers of natural pupils shifted temporally as pupils dilated. At common pupil sizes, drug-induced pupil centers were different from natural pupil centers. Phenylephrine produced a center shift in the nasal and inferior directions that peaked after a mean of 30 min, whereas dilation was continuing up to 60 min. Tropicamide produced transient center shifts in the nasal and inferior directions that peaked at about 10 min before reducing toward baseline values, whereas dilation reached a peak at about 25 min. Pilocarpine produced a small sustained superior shift that, like constriction, reached a peak after about 25 min.


Application of topical ophthalmic drugs cause shifts in pupil center that do not match those produced by natural changes in pupil size and that, in the cases of phenylephrine and tropicamide, follow a different time course than the pupil size changes.

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