Programm                 "Degeneration und Regeneration– Grundlagen, Diagnostik und Therapie"

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Vision-Dependent Eye Growth in a Primate Model

Smith E. L.
College of Optometry, University of Houston/USA

Soon after birth, most infants develop near-emmetropic refractive errors, which are then maintained in both eyes throughout childhood and into early adult life. However, for reasons not currently understood, a significant and, in some cases, increasing proportion of the population develop abnormal refractive errors. Literally for centuries scientists and clinicians have debated the question of whether these refractive errors are conditions of genetic origin or whether these errors are a functional adaptation molded by visual experience. Until relatively recently, the weight of scientific evidence supported the idea that refractive errors were the result of non-visual, preprogrammed genetic factors, i.e., an individual’s refractive status was determined by his or her genetic makeup. However, beginning with Wiesel and Raviola’s (1977) report of extreme myopia in form-deprived monkeys, research involving a variety of animal species has clearly demonstrated that visual experience can have a profound effect on ocular growth and the eye’s refractive state. In particular, in many animals, including higher primates, emmetropization has been shown to be an active process that is regulated by optical defocus associated with the eye’s effective refractive state. This substantial body of knowledge strongly suggests that spectacle lenses should influence the ocular development of human children. However, to date there is little direct evidence that spectacle lenses can influence either ocular growt

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