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Invest Ophthalmol Vis Sci. 2009 Jan;50(1):281-9. doi: 10.1167/iovs.08-2124. Epub 2008 Aug 1.

Constant volume of the human lens and decrease in surface area of the capsular bag during accommodation: an MRI and Scheimpflug study.

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Department of Physics and Medical Technology, VU University Medical Center, Amsterdam, The Netherlands.

Erratum in

  • Invest Ophthalmol Vis Sci. 2009 Jun;50(6):2625.



A change in surface area of the capsular bag and a change in volume of the lens can indicate whether a change in the shape of the lens during accommodation is due to the compressibility or the elasticity of the lens material.


3D magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) was used to image the complete shape of the lens in a group of five healthy subjects between 18 and 35 years of age. A parametric representation of the cross-sectional shape was fitted to the edges of the lens, which were determined with a Canny edge filter. Based on a partition of the lens into eight parts, the parametric shape makes it possible to calculate the mean cross-sectional area, the volume, and the surface area as a function of accommodation. Corrected Scheimpflug imaging was used to validate the results obtained with MRI.


No significant difference in central anterior and posterior radius of curvature and thickness was found between the MRI and Scheimpflug measurements. In accordance with the Helmholtz accommodation theory, a decrease in the anterior and posterior radius of curvature and equatorial diameter and an increase in lens thickness occurred with accommodation. During accommodation, the mean cross-sectional area increased and the surface area decreased. However, no significant change in lens volume was found.


The preservation of lens volume implies that the internal human lens material can be assumed to be incompressible and is undergoing elastic deformation. Furthermore, the change in surface area indicates that the capsular bag also undergoes elastic deformation.

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