Purpose: In juvenile tree shrews, positioning a negative-power lens in front of an eye produces a hyperopic shift in refractive state and causes a compensatory increase in axial length over several days so that the eye is myopic when the lens is removed. During negative lens compensation, the scleral extracellular matrix is remodeled. A biomechanical property of the sclera, creep rate, increases; during recovery from induced myopia, the creep rate decreases below normal levels. Changes in glycosaminoglycan (GAG) levels, including those of hyaluronan, may participate in these changes in creep rate and, in turn, participate in controlling the axial length and refractive state. This study investigated the unsulfated and sulfated GAG composition of the sclera during compensation for a -5 diopter (D) lens and during recovery.
Methods: Capillary electrophoresis was used to assess the relative levels (ng/mg dry scleral weight) of unsulfated GAGs (hyaluronan [HA] and chondroitin [C0S]), sulfated GAGs (chondroitin-4-sulfate [C4S], chondroitin-6-sulfate [C6S], and dermatan sulfate [DS]) in the sclera of groups of tree shrews (n = 5 per group) that wore a monocular -5 D lens for 1, 2, 4, or 11 days or had 11 days of -5 D lens wear followed by 1, 2, or 4 days of recovery from lens wear. The fellow eye served as an untreated control. Groups of normal and plano lens-treated animals provided age-matched values.
Results: Expressed as a fraction of dry weight, levels of HA were lower after 1, 4, and 11 days of -5 D lens wear. Levels of C0S, C6S, and C4S were significantly lower after 4 and 11 days of lens wear. After 1 and 2 days of recovery, GAG levels in the treated eyes were not significantly different from those in control eyes. After 4 recovery days, HA levels were lower, but the levels of all other GAGs were not different in the recovering and control eyes. Some binocular changes also occurred.
Conclusions: The rapid differential decrease in HA levels during negative lens compensation and the absence of any difference after just 1 day of recovery suggest that HA levels may play a previously unrecognized early role in regulating the biomechanical property (creep rate) of the sclera. The reduced levels of the other GAGs, which occur when creep rate is at its peak elevation, and their rapid return to normal after 1 day of recovery suggest that they may also participate in regulating this biomechanical property of the sclera.