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Invest Ophthalmol Vis Sci. 2004 Aug;45(8):2691-5.

Qualitative effect of zonular tension on freshly extracted intact human crystalline lenses: implications for the mechanism of accommodation.

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Department of Physics, University of Texas at Arlington, Dallas, 75360, USA.



To determine the topographic effects of zonular tension on the anterior surface of the human crystalline lens.


Real-time topography of the anterior surface of seven fully relaxed, freshly extracted intact, clear, human crystalline lenses aged 3, 17, 45, 54, 54, 56, and 56 years was qualitatively obtained before, during, and after the application of zonular traction. Zonular traction was applied manually either by grasping a group of zonules 180 degrees apart with tying forceps (three lenses), or with micrometers by clamping four portions of the ciliary body that were 90 degrees apart (four lenses).


Zonular tension began with the lenses in the fully relaxed, baseline state. As zonular tension was increased across one meridian of all seven lenses, the center of the anterior surface steepened while the periphery of the anterior surface flattened across that meridian of traction. When the tension was reduced across that meridian of traction, the center of the lens flattened while the periphery steepened in that meridian. Four-point zonular traction applied 90 degrees apart produced symmetrical central steepening (four lenses). Reduction of zonular tension across both orthogonal meridians caused symmetrical central flattening.


These observations reveal that when zonular tension is applied to the fully relaxed lens, the center steepens and its periphery flattens in the meridian (or meridians) in which zonular tension is applied. The reverse of this process demonstrates that as tension is reduced, the center of the lens flattens while the periphery steepens either in the meridian of relaxation or symmetrically when zonular tension is released from two orthogonal meridians. These results are opposite to what would have been predicted on the basis of Helmholtz's theory of accommodation.

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