Brief hyperopic defocus or form deprivation have varying effects on eye growth and ocular rhythms depending on the time-of-day of exposure

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It is generally accepted that myopic defocus is a more potent signal to the emmetropization system than hyperopic defocus: one hour per day of myopic defocus cancels out 11 h of hyperopic defocus. However, we have recently shown that the potency of brief episodes of myopic defocus at inhibiting eye growth depends on the time of day of exposure. We here ask if this will also be true of the responses to brief periods of hyperopic defocus: may integration of the signal depend on time of day? If so, are the rhythms in axial length and choroidal thickness altered? Hyperopic defocus: Birds had one eye exposed to hyperopic defocus by the wearing of −10D lenses for 2 or 6 h at one of 3 times of day for 5 days: Morning (7 am – 9 am: n = 13; 7 am – 1 pm: n = 6), Mid-day (12 pm – 2 pm: n = 20; 10 am – 4 pm: n = 8), or Evening (7 pm – 9 pm: n = 12; 2 pm – 8 pm: n = 11). A separate group wore monocular lenses continually as a control (n = 12). Form deprivation: Birds wore a diffuser over one eye for 2 h at one of 3 times of day for 5 days: Morning (n = 12); Mid-day (n = 19) or Evening (n = 6). For all groups, ocular dimensions were measured using high-frequency A-scan ultrasonography at noon on the first day, under inhalation anesthesia. On day 5, eye dimensions were re-measured at 12 pm, and refractive errors were measured using a Hartinger's refractometer. A subset of birds in the 2-h lens group (morning, n = 8; mid-day, n = 8; evening, n = 6), and the deprivation group (n = 6 per time point), were also measured at 6 pm, 12 am, 6 am and 12 pm on the last day of exposure, to obtain the parameters of the diurnal rhythms in axial length and choroidal thickness. The effects of 2 h of defocus depended on time of day of exposure: it stimulated eye growth when exposure was in the morning and inhibited it when it was at mid-day (change in vitreous chamber, X-C; ANOVA p < 0.0005; 120 μm vs −77 μm/5d, respectively; t-tests: p = 0.001; p = 0.01; post-hoc tests: p = 0.002). For mid-day, experimental eyes were more hyperopic (1.4 D; p < 0.0001). Similar to 2 h defocus, 6 h exposures at mid-day inhibited growth and produced hyperopia (X-C: −167 μm; t-test p = 0.005; RE: 1.8 D; p = 0.03). The effects of 2 h of FD were similar to those of hyperopic defocus in inhibiting growth for mid-day exposures, but FD inhibited growth for the morning exposures as well (Axial length: X-C: Morning: −122 μm; mid-day: −92 μm; ttests p = 0.006 and p = 0.016 respectively). Experimental eyes were more hyperopic (1.8 D; 1.0 D; p < 0.05). The rhythms in axial length were altered for the morning exposures in both conditions. Form deprivation in the morning, which caused inhibition, caused the phases of the two rhythms to shift toward one another (peaks at 6:00 am and 10:45 am for choroid and axial length respectively). Our findings imply that the retinal “integrator”, and/or scleral growth regulator exhibit diurnal rhythms. Furthermore, they suggest that reading activities early in the day may be contraindicated in school children at risk of becoming myopic.

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