In vitro dimensions and curvatures of human lenses

Vision Res. 2006 Mar;46(6-7):1002-9. doi: 10.1016/j.visres.2005.10.019.


The purpose of this study was to determine dimensions and curvatures of excised human lenses using the technique of shadowphotogrammetry. A modified optical comparator and digital camera were used to photograph magnified sagittal and coronal lens profiles. Equatorial diameter, anterior and posterior sagittal thickness, anterior and posterior curvatures, and shape factors were obtained from these images. The data were used to calculate lens volumes, which were compared with the lens weights. Measurements were made on 37 human lenses ranging in age from 20 to 99 years. These showed that lens dimensions and the anterior radius of curvature increase linearly throughout adult life while posterior curvature remains constant. The relative shape (or aspect ratio) of the posterior lens is unchanged through adult life since both equatorial diameter and posterior thickness increase at the same rate. The ratio of anterior thickness to posterior thickness is constant at 0.70. It is suggested that in vivo forces alter the apparent location of the lens equator, that the in vitro lens shape corresponds to the maximally accommodated shape in vivo and that the shapes of the accommodated and unaccommodated lens progressively converge toward each other due to lens growth with age, with a convergence point located near the age of total loss of accommodation (55-60 years). Together, these observations provide additional support for the Helmholtz theory of accommodation.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Accommodation, Ocular / physiology
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Aging / pathology
  • Aging / physiology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Image Processing, Computer-Assisted / methods
  • Lens, Crystalline / anatomy & histology*
  • Lens, Crystalline / physiology
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Photogrammetry / methods
  • Presbyopia / physiopathology