The shape of the aging human lens: curvature, equivalent refractive index and the lens paradox

Vision Res. 2001 Jun;41(14):1867-77. doi: 10.1016/s0042-6989(01)00057-8.


Scheimpflug slit images of the crystalline lens are distorted due to the refracting properties of the cornea and because they are obliquely viewed. We measured the aspheric curvature of the lens of 102 subjects ranging in age between 16 and 65 years and applied correction for these distortions. The procedure was validated by measuring an artificial eye and pseudophakic patients with intraocular lenses of known dimensions. Compared to previous studies using Scheimpflug photography, the decrease of the radius of the anterior lens surface with age was smaller, and the absolute value for the radius of the anterior and posterior lens surface was significantly smaller. A slight decrease of the posterior lens radius with age could be demonstrated. Generally, front and back surfaces were hyperbolic. Axial length was measured of 42 subjects enabling calculation of the equivalent refractive index of the lens, which showed a small, but highly significant decrease with age. These new findings explain the lens paradox and may serve as a basis for modelling the refractive properties of the lens.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aging / physiology*
  • Anterior Chamber / anatomy & histology
  • Corneal Topography
  • Eye, Artificial
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Interferometry
  • Lens, Crystalline / anatomy & histology*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Normal Distribution
  • Photography
  • Pseudophakia / pathology
  • Refraction, Ocular*