Topical and intravenous pilocarpine stimulated accommodation in anesthetized rhesus monkeys

Exp Eye Res. 2010 May;90(5):605-16. doi: 10.1016/j.exer.2010.02.005. Epub 2010 Feb 14.


Many studies have used pilocarpine to stimulate accommodation in both humans and monkeys. However, the concentrations of pilocarpine used and the methods of administration vary. In this study, three different methods of pilocarpine administration are evaluated for their effectiveness in stimulating accommodation in rhesus monkeys. Experiments were performed in 17 iridectomized, anesthetized rhesus monkeys aged 4-16 years. Maximum accommodation was stimulated in all these monkeys with a 2% pilocarpine solution maintained on the cornea for at least 30 min in a specially designed perfusion lens. In subsequent topical pilocarpine experiments, baseline refraction was measured with a Hartinger coincidence refractometer and then while the monkeys were upright and facing forward, commercially available pilocarpine (2, 4, or 6%) was applied topically to the cornea as 2 or 4 drops in two applications or 6 drops in three applications over a five minute period with the eyelids closed between applications. Alternatively, while supine, 10-12 drops of pilocarpine were maintained on the cornea in a scleral cup for 5 min. Refraction measurements were begun 5 min after the second application of pilocarpine and continued for at least 30 min after initial administration until no further change in refraction occurred. In intravenous experiments, pilocarpine was given either as boluses ranging from 0.1mg/kg to 2mg/kg or boluses followed by a constant infusion at rates between 3.06 mg/kg/h and 11.6 mg/kg/h. Constant 2% pilocarpine solution on the eye in the perfusion lens produced 10.88+/-2.73 D (mean+/-SD) of accommodation. Topically applied pilocarpine produced 3.81 D+/-2.41, 5.49 D+/-4.08, and 5.55 D+/-3.27 using 2%, 4%, and 6% solutions respectively. When expressed as a percentage of the accommodative response amplitude obtained in the same monkey with constant 2% pilocarpine solution on the eye, the responses were 34.7% for 2% pilocarpine, 48.4% for 4% pilocarpine, and 44.6% for 6% pilocarpine. Topical 4% and 6% pilocarpine achieved similar, variable accommodative responses, but neither achieved maximum accommodation. IV boluses of pilocarpine achieved near maximal levels of accommodation at least ten times faster than topical methods. Doses effective for producing maximum accommodation ranged from 0.25mg/kg to 1.0mg/kg. IV pilocarpine boluses caused an anterior movement of the anterior lens surface, a posterior movement of the posterior lens surface, and a slight net anterior movement of the entire lens. Considerable variability in response amplitude occurred and maximum accommodative amplitude was rarely achieved with topical application of a variety of concentrations of commercially available pilocarpine. Intravenous infusion of pilocarpine was a rapid and reliable method of producing a nearly maximal accommodative response and maintaining accommodation when desired.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Accommodation, Ocular / drug effects*
  • Administration, Topical
  • Anesthesia, Intravenous
  • Anesthetics, Intravenous / administration & dosage
  • Animals
  • Infusions, Intravenous
  • Injections, Intravenous
  • Iridectomy
  • Macaca mulatta
  • Muscarinic Agonists / administration & dosage*
  • Pilocarpine / administration & dosage*
  • Propofol / administration & dosage
  • Refraction, Ocular


  • Anesthetics, Intravenous
  • Muscarinic Agonists
  • Pilocarpine
  • Propofol