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Accommodation: The role of the external muscles of the eye

Speculation as to optical malfunction has led to dissatisfaction with the theory that the lens is the sole agent in accommodation and to the suggestion that other parts of the eye are also conjointly involved.

Around half-a-century ago, Robert Brooks Simpkins suggested that the mechanical features of the human eye were precisely such as to allow for a lengthening of the globe when the eye accommodated. Simpkins was not an optical man but his theory is both imaginative and comprehensive and deserves consideration.

EDITOR: At least half a century prior to Robert Brooks Simpkins, William H. Bates, MD, an ophthalmologist, proposed this theory.

It is submitted here that accommodation is in fact a twofold process, and that although involving the lens, is achieved primarily by means of a give - and - take interplay between adducting and abducting external muscles, whereby an elongation of the eyeball is brought about by a stretching of the delicate elastic fibres immediately behind the cornea.

The three muscles responsible for convergence (superior, internal and inferior recti) all pull from in front backwards, while of the three abductors (external rectus and the two obliques) the obliques pull from behind forwards, allowing for an easy elongation as the eye turns inwards and a return to its original length as the abducting muscles regain their former tension, returning the eye to distance vision.

In refractive errors, the altered length of the eyeball disturbs the harmonious give - and - take relationship between adductors and abductors. Such stresses are likely to be perpetuated and the error exacerbated. Speculation is not directed towards a search for a possible cause of the muscular imbalance, since none is suspected.

Muscles not used rapidly lose tone, as evidenced after removal of a limb from plaster. Early attention to the need for restorative exercise is essential and results usually impressive.

If flexibility of the external muscles of the eyes is essential for continuing good sight, presbyopia can be avoided and with it the supposed necessity of glasses in middle life.

Early attention to the need for muscle flexibility and for frequent change of focus, it is believed, leads to ocular wellbeing and obviates the reliance on glasses. It is a consideration yet to be widely entertained. The alarming increase in myopia has led to considerable investigation in recent years as to increase in the length of the eyeball. Thus far however there is little agreement regarding causes.

Med Hypotheses. 2014 Nov;83(5):607-13. doi: 10.1016/j.mehy.2014.08.006. Epub 2014 Aug 15.

Accommodation: The role of the external muscles of the eye: A consideration of refractive errors in relation to extraocular malfunction.

Hargrave BK

Copyright © 2014 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

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