Springer Online Journal Archives 1860-2000
Summary 1. In order to analyse the mechanism of accommodation in anurans, drugs (miotic or atropine) were applied to the cornea of anaesthetized animals to change the refractive state of their eyes. During such changes, the lens and cornea were photographed and the refractive state of the eye was measured using laser speckle refractometry. Measurements taken from the photographs confirmed suggestions by Beer (1898) that accommodation is achieved by moving the lens and not by changing the shape of the lens or cornea. The change in refractive state induced by pharmacological manipulation was about 10 diopters with an accompanying shift in lens position of about 150 μm. Calculations based on a schematic eye suggest a disparity between the amount of lens movement theoretically needed to produce a 10 D shift in refractive state and the amount actually observed. 2. The lens is probably moved by two protractor lentis muscles which are positioned so as to pull the lens towards the cornea (Tretjakoff 1906, 1913). Dissection and HRP preparations revealed that these muscles are innervated by fibres of the oculomotor nerve which relay in the ciliary ganglion. InR. esculenta andR. pipiens, the ciliary ganglion consists of only 8 to 12 nerve cells. 3. MS222 anaesthesia and lymphatic injection of curare cause the lens to move away from the cornea, presumably because they destroy the resting tonus of the protractor lentis muscles. We discuss this finding in relation to the frog's ‘resting’ accommodative state, and conclude that unparalysed frogs are likely to be myopic, and not emmetropic as previous work suggests. 4. Prey capture was analysed inR. pipiens after the disruption of accommodation by bilateral section of the oculomotor nerve. Estimates of prey distance remained accurate when vision was binocular. However, during monocular vision, when the oculomotor nerve was sectioned on one side and the other eye was either occluded or had its optic nerve cut, frogs consistently underestimated the distance of their prey. This result suggests, in agreement with earlier evidence, that accommodation is used for judging depth when vision is limited to one eye, but that binocular information predominates when it is available. 5. Atropine applied to the cornea of monocular frogs also causes distance to be underestimated. It is argued from this that frogs assess distance by monitoring the motor commands sent to their accommodative muscles, rather than by using sensory information from the muscles themselves.
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