Purpose: Studies of myopia in mice have been complicated by the difficulty in obtaining accurate measurements of small changes observed in the growing mouse eye in vivo and the lack of data on refractive eye development. The purpose of this study was to carry out an in vivo high-resolution analysis of mouse eye growth and refractive development.
Methods: High-resolution small animal magnetic resonance imaging and high-resolution infrared photorefraction were used to analyze refractive development in postnatal day (P)21 to P89 C57BL/6J mice.
Results: The growth of the mouse eye decelerated after P40. The eye maintained a slightly prolate shape during growth. The anterior chamber growth exhibited a similar pattern, whereas the corneal radius of curvature (CRC) increased linearly. The growth rate of the lens remained constant until P89. The lens "overgrew" the eye at P40, resulting in a decline in vitreous chamber depth. Mice showed myopic refractive errors at a younger age (-13.2 +/- 2.0 D; mean +/- SD, P21). The refractive errors stabilized around emmetropic values by P32 and remained emmetropic until P40. Mice became progressively hyperopic with age (+1.2 +/- 1.7 D, P67; +3.6 +/- 2.3 D, P89).
Conclusions: Development of ocular components in the mouse is similar to that of the tree shrew but different from that of higher primates and humans. Primary differences can be attributed to the age-related changes of the crystalline lens and CRC. In spite of these differences, mice appear to be able to achieve and maintain emmetropic refractive status at P32 to P40.