Ocular axial length and choroidal thickness in newly hatched chicks and one-year-old chickens fluctuate in a diurnal pattern that is influenced by visual experience and intraocular pressure changes

Exp Eye Res. 1998 Feb;66(2):195-205. doi: 10.1006/exer.1997.0421.


Low coherence laser Doppler interferometry (LDI) allows high precision measurements of the axial length of the eye and of the thickness of the individual layers of the ocular fundus. Here, we used LDI to monitor diurnal changes in these dimensions in eyes of newly hatched chicks and one-year-old chickens with normal or altered visual input. In chicks and chickens with normal visual experience, axial eye length displays diurnal fluctuations increasing during the light phase. Choroidal thickness also exhibits a diurnal pattern, shrinking during the day and expanding during the night. Retinal thickness does not vary. Based on the pressure compliance of the enucleated chick eye, the diurnal intraocular pressure (IOP) fluctuation could contribute both to the increase in axial length and to daytime choroidal shrinkage. Following deprivation of form vision by unilateral goggle wear, occluded chick eyes demonstrate enhanced axial elongation. Diurnal fluctuations in axial length but not in choroidal thickness are temporarily disrupted. The retina of form deprived eyes thins approximately 10% in five days. In contralateral eyes, the diurnal patterns of both axial length and choroidal thickness fluctuations are also disrupted. Following occluder removal in chicks, choroidal thickness increases for several days during both the light and dark phase, leading to its overall expansion. Retinal thickness returns to baseline. When deprived of form vision for five days, the eyes of year-old chickens do not exhibit measurable axial elongation. Diurnal patterns of fluctuation in axial length and choroidal thickness are however disrupted. After goggle removal, axial length fluctuation is restored to normal, but the diurnal choroidal thickness pattern is inverted. In contralateral eyes, choroidal thickness exhibits normal diurnal fluctuations both during and after form vision deprivation. In conclusion, axial length and choroidal thickness fluctuations are influenced by visual experience in both newborn chicks and one-year-old chickens. In selected instances a binocular interaction regarding axial length and choroidal thickness changes is suggested, the effect weakening with age.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Chickens / physiology*
  • Choroid / anatomy & histology
  • Circadian Rhythm*
  • Eye / anatomy & histology*
  • Form Perception
  • Interferometry
  • Intraocular Pressure / physiology
  • Ocular Physiological Phenomena*
  • Photic Stimulation
  • Retina / anatomy & histology
  • Sclera / anatomy & histology
  • Sensory Deprivation / physiology