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J Comp Physiol A. 1989 Oct;165(6):771-7.

The eye of the hooded seal, Cystophora cristata, in air and water.

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School of Optometry, University of Waterloo, Ontario, Canada.


Multiple refractive state measurements were made on a male and female hooded seal (Cystophora cristata) when the eyes were exposed to air and to water. The measures, made by conventional retinoscopy and by photorefraction, show that the seals are moderately hyperopic (2-3 diopters) in water and moderately myopic (2-4 diopters) in air. No significant astigmatism was noted in either medium. The absence of refractive state variation over time suggests that an accommodative mechanism is insignificant or absent, although histological study indicates that the ciliary muscle is well developed. Photokeratoscopy, carried out on two animals with two keratoscopic instruments, show that the cornea is relatively flat (30 mm, or about one-half the diameter of the eye). Furthermore the cornea is only slightly astigmatic (less than 1 diopter). The refractive power of the external corneal surface (in air), calculated from a measurement of corneal refractive index of 1.378, amounts to only 10 or 11 diopters. As in the typical fish eye, hooded seal lenses are spherical or nearly spherical in shape (24-23 mm), and have short focal lengths (30-32 mm). Focal measures for rays at varying distances from the lens center indicate that spherical aberration is well corrected. There is no indication in this seal species, of a previously reported adaptation involving a highly astigmatic cornea which together with a slit pupil can minimize the optical effect of movement from water to air.

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