Purpose: To determine the refractive state of tree shrew eyes using visual evoked potentials (VEP's) recorded from primary visual cortex and compare the values with those obtained with streak retinoscopy and with an autorefractor.
Methods: VEP's were recorded in seven normal tree shrews and three animals in which approximately 5 D of myopia (relative to control eye) was induced by monocular -5 D lens wear. While the animals were awake, refractive correction was measured with an autorefractor before and after cycloplegia (1% atropine and 2.5% phenylepherine). When anesthetized, cycloplegic refractive correction was measured with streak retinoscopy. Then VEP's were produced with square-wave counterphased (1 Hz) high-contrast checkerboard patterns near the animals' high spatial frequency cutoff. Spherical lenses (2 D steps) were placed before the eye, and the VEP (average of 128 sweeps) was measured to determine the lens that produced the largest first positive peak (P1).
Results: VEP's were obtained over a broad range of trial lenses. Tuning was narrower when check sizes were small. In normal and control eyes, the P1 amplitude was largest, on average, for a trial lens of (mean +/- SD) -0.6 +/- 1.6 D (corrected for working distance but not vertex distance). The mean streak retinoscopy value (spherical equivalent at the corneal plane) was 7.0 +/- 0.8 D, and mean autorefractor values were 4.0 +/- 1.1 D (cycloplegic) and 3.7 +/- 1.2 D (noncycloplegic). In the eyes that compensated for a -5 D lens, the largest P1 values occurred with lenses with a power of -6.3 +/- 3.2 D. Thus, the VEP measure showed a similar treated vs. control eye difference as did streak retinoscopy (treated eyes, 4.7 +/- 0.4 D myopic) and the autorefractor (treated eyes, 4.8 +/- 0.5 D myopic).
Conclusions: Normal tree shrew eyes are approximately emmetropic. The hyperopic values obtained with streak retinoscopy and the autorefractor are consistent with the presence of a "small-eye artifact" in tree shrews. Eyes that have compensated for a -5 D lens are myopic by approximately the value of the lens.