Optical mechanisms regulating emmetropisation and refractive errors: evidence from animal models

Ranjay Chakraborty, Lisa A. Ostrin, Alexandra Benavente-Perez, Pavan Kumar Verkicharla

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

29 Citations (Scopus)


Our current understanding of emmetropisation and myopia development has evolved from decades of work in various animal models, including chicks, non-human primates, tree shrews, guinea pigs, and mice. Extensive research on optical, biochemical, and environmental mechanisms contributing to refractive error development in animal models has provided insights into eye growth in humans. Importantly, animal models have taught us that eye growth is locally controlled within the eye, and can be influenced by the visual environment. This review will focus on information gained from animal studies regarding the role of optical mechanisms in guiding eye growth, and how these investigations have inspired studies in humans. We will first discuss how researchers came to understand that emmetropisation is guided by visual feedback, and how this can be manipulated by form-deprivation and lens-induced defocus to induce refractive errors in animal models. We will then discuss various aspects of accommodation that have been implicated in refractive error development, including accommodative microfluctuations and accommodative lag. Next, the impact of higher order aberrations and peripheral defocus will be discussed. Lastly, recent evidence suggesting that the spectral and temporal properties of light influence eye growth, and how this might be leveraged to treat myopia in children, will be presented. Taken together, these findings from animal models have significantly advanced our knowledge about the optical mechanisms contributing to eye growth in humans, and will continue to contribute to the development of novel and effective treatment options for slowing myopia progression in children.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)55-67
Number of pages13
JournalClinical and Experimental Optometry
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2020


  • accommodation
  • emmetropisation
  • form-deprivation
  • longitudinal chromatic aberration
  • myopia
  • peripheral defocus


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