Effect of hyperbaric oxygen on guinea pig lens optical quality and on the refractive state of the eye

Exp Eye Res. 2004 May;78(5):925-31. doi: 10.1016/j.exer.2004.01.002.


The main objective of this study was to investigate the effect of in vivo hyperbaric oxygen (HBO) treatment of albino guinea pigs on ocular refractive state and optical properties of the lens in vitro, as well as on the integrity of the mitochondria of the lens. The animals were treated 30-35 times (2.5-3 months) or 70 times (6 months) with HBO. An increased level of lens nuclear light scattering was evident by slit-lamp at 30 treatments, and this increased at 70 treatments. After 30-35 HBO treatments a myopic shift in refractive state of the eye was seen in two separate studies with two different refractionists. Also, the average back vertex distance of the lens was significantly shorter after 35 HBO treatments while spherical aberration (focal variability) increased after 70 treatments. No difference in refractive state was noted after 70 HBO treatments (a reversal of the initial myopic effect). The mitochondrial distribution and morphology of the lens epithelium and the superficial cortical fibre cells were normal after both 35 and 70 HBO treatments, highlighting that HBO treatment does not affect the superficial cortex of the lens. The results of the in vitro lens optical analysis carried out in this study correlate with the myopia observed after 30-35 HBO in vivo treatments. A similar reversible myopia and increase in lens nuclear light scattering is known to occur in humans treated with HBO for extended periods and the results suggest that the myopia was caused by a change in the refractive index of the lens. The significant loss of sharp focus after 70 HBO treatments can be correlated with previous reports of biochemical and morphological changes associated with HBO-induced loss of lens nuclear transparency in mature guinea pigs. The guinea pig HBO model may be a useful approach for the study of lens development and refractive error.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Disease Models, Animal
  • Guinea Pigs
  • Hyperbaric Oxygenation / adverse effects*
  • Lens, Crystalline / physiopathology*
  • Lens, Crystalline / ultrastructure
  • Male
  • Microscopy, Confocal
  • Mitochondria / ultrastructure
  • Optics and Photonics
  • Refraction, Ocular
  • Refractive Errors / etiology*
  • Refractive Errors / pathology
  • Refractive Errors / physiopathology
  • Scattering, Radiation