Visual signals that produce myopia are mediated by local, regionally selective mechanisms. However, little is known about spatial integration for signals that slow eye growth. The purpose of this study was to determine whether the effects of myopic defocus are integrated in a local manner in primates.
Beginning at 24 ± 2 days of age, seven rhesus monkeys were reared with monocular spectacles that produced 3 diopters (D) of relative myopic defocus in the nasal visual field of the treated eye but allowed unrestricted vision in the temporal field (NF monkeys). Seven monkeys were reared with monocular +3 D lenses that produced relative myopic defocus across the entire field of view (FF monkeys). Comparison data from previous studies were available for 11 control monkeys, 8 monkeys that experienced 3 D of hyperopic defocus in the nasal field, and 6 monkeys exposed to 3 D of hyperopic defocus across the entire field. Refractive development, corneal power, and axial dimensions were assessed at 2- to 4-week intervals using retinoscopy, keratometry, and ultrasonography, respectively. Eye shape was assessed using magnetic resonance imaging.
In response to full-field myopic defocus, the FF monkeys developed compensating hyperopic anisometropia, the degree of which was relatively constant across the horizontal meridian. In contrast, the NF monkeys exhibited compensating hyperopic changes in refractive error that were greatest in the nasal visual field. The changes in the pattern of peripheral refractions in the NF monkeys reflected interocular differences in vitreous chamber shape.
As with form deprivation and hyperopic defocus, the effects of myopic defocus are mediated by mechanisms that integrate visual signals in a local, regionally selective manner in primates. These results are in agreement with the hypothesis that peripheral vision can influence eye shape and potentially central refractive error in a manner that is independent of central visual experience.