Purpose: Bright light is a potent inhibitor of myopia development in animal models. Because development of refractive errors has been linked to changes in choroidal thickness, we have studied in chickens whether bright light may exert its effects on myopia also through changes in choroidal thickness.
Methods: Three-day-old chickens were exposed to “bright light” (15,000 lux; n = 14) from 10 AM to 4 PM but kept under “normal light” (500 lux) during the remaining time of the light phase for 5 days (total duration of light phase 8 AM to 6 PM). A control group (n = 14) was kept under normal light during the entire light phase. Choroidal thickness was measured in alert, hand-held animals with optical coherence tomography at 10 AM, 4 PM, and 8 PM every day.
Results: Complete data sets were available for 12 chicks in bright light group and nine in normal light group. The striking inter-individual variability in choroidal thickness (coefficient of variance: 23%) made it necessary to normalize changes to the individual baseline thickness of the choroid. During the 6 hours of exposure to bright light, choroidal thickness decreased by −5.2 ± 4.0% (mean ± SEM). By contrast, in the group kept under normal light, choroidal thickness increased by +15.4 ± 4.7% (difference between both groups p = 0.003). After an additional 4 hours, choroidal thickness increased also in the “bright light group” by +17.8 ± 3.5%, while there was little further change (+0.6 ± 4.0%) in the “normal light group” (difference p = 0.004). Finally, the choroid was thicker in the “bright light group” (+7.6 ± 26.0%) than in the “normal light group” (day 5: −18.6 ± 26.9%; difference p = 0.036).
Conclusions: Bright light stimulates choroidal thickening in chickens, although the response is smaller than with experimentally imposed myopic defocus, and it occurs with some time delay. It nevertheless suggests that choroidal thickening is also involved in myopia inhibition by bright light.