Receding and Disparity Cues Aid Relaxation of Accommodation

Horwood, A, Riddell, P.. Optometry & Vision Science, 2009, 11, 1276-1286

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  • Accommodation relaxes maximally when fixing a binocular target which has just moved from near to distance, so such targets are best for revealing hypermetropia without cycloplegia.


Accommodation can mask hyperopia and reduce the accuracy of non-cycloplegic refraction. It is, therefore, important to minimize accommodation to obtain a measure of hyperopia as accurate as possible. To characterize the parameters required to measure the maximally hyperopic error using photorefraction, we used different target types and distances to determine which target was most likely to maximally relax accommodation and thus more accurately detect hyperopia in an individual.


A PlusoptiX SO4 infra-red photorefractor was mounted in a remote haploscopic which presented the targets. All participants were tested with targets at four fixation distances between 0.3 and 2 m containing all combinations of blur, disparity, and proximity/looming cues. Thirty-eight infants (6 to 44 weeks) were studied longitudinally, and 104 children [4 to 15 years (mean 6.4)] and 85 adults, with a range of refractive errors and binocular vision status, were tested once. Cycloplegic refraction data were available for a sub-set of 59 participants spread across the age range.


The maximally hyperopic refraction (MHR) found at any time in the session was most frequently found when fixating the most distant targets and those containing disparity and dynamic proximity/looming cues. Presence or absence of blur was less significant, and targets in which only single cues to depth were present were also less likely to produce MHR. MHR correlated closely with cycloplegic refraction (r = 0.93, mean difference 0.07 D, p = n.s., 95% confidence interval +/-<0.25 D) after correction by a calibration factor.


Maximum relaxation of accommodation occurred for binocular targets receding into the distance. Proximal and disparity cues aid relaxation of accommodation to a greater extent than blur, and thus non-cycloplegic refraction targets should incorporate these cues. This is especially important in screening contexts with a brief opportunity to test for significant hyperopia. MHR in our laboratory was found to be a reliable estimation of cycloplegic refraction.