Purpose: We demonstrated that eyes of young animals of various species (chick, tree shrew, marmoset, and rhesus macaque) can shorten in the axial dimension in response to myopic defocus.
Methods: Chicks wore positive or negative lenses over one eye for 3 days. Tree shrews were measured during recovery from induced myopia after 5 days of monocular deprivation for 1 to 9 days. Marmosets were measured during recovery from induced myopia after monocular deprivation, or wearing negative lenses over one or both eyes, or from wearing positive lenses over one or both eyes. Rhesus macaques were measured after recovery from induced myopia after monocular deprivation, or wearing negative lenses over one or both eyes. Axial length was measured with ultrasound biometry in all species.
Results: Tree shrew eyes showed a strong trend to shorten axially to compensate for myopic defocus. Of 34 eyes that recovered from deprivation-induced myopia for various durations, 30 eyes (88%) shortened, whereas only 7 fellow eyes shortened. In chicks, eyes wearing positive lenses reduced their rate of ocular elongation by two-thirds, including 38.5% of eyes in which the axial length became shorter than before. Evidence of axial shortening in rhesus macaque (40%) and marmoset (6%) eyes also occurred when exposed to myopic defocus, although much less frequently than that in eyes of tree shrews. The axial shortening was caused mostly by the reduction in vitreous chamber depth.
Conclusions: Eyes of chick, tree shrew, marmoset, and rhesus macaque can shorten axially when presented with myopic defocus, whether the myopic defocus is created by wearing positive lenses, or is the result of axial elongation of the eye produced by prior negative lens wear or deprivation. This eye shortening facilitates compensation for the imposed myopia. Implications for human myopia control are significant.