Lower-field myopia in birds: an adaptation that keeps the ground in focus

Vision Res. 1990;30(5):653-7. doi: 10.1016/0042-6989(90)90091-x.


In the lower visual field of pigeons, a myopia (near-sightedness) has been reported that progressively increases with the angle below the horizon. Previous data suggested that this lower-field myopia may be an adaptation that permits pigeons to keep the ground in focus while they forage, and simultaneously, to monitor the horizon and sky for predators. We report here a lower-field myopia in other species of birds that have a wide range of heights. A geometric model of this adaptation predicts that the amount of myopia should be systematically related to the distance from the pupil to the ground. The eyes of quail, chickens and cranes of various heights (7.0-104.1 cm) were refracted at 60 deg below the horizon. Their myopia was close to the predicted value at each height.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Physiological*
  • Animals
  • Birds / physiology*
  • Chickens / physiology
  • Coturnix / physiology
  • Models, Biological
  • Myopia*
  • Refraction, Ocular
  • Regression Analysis
  • Visual Fields / physiology*