The optics of comparative ophthalmoscopy

Christopher J Murphy, Howard C. Rowland

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

37 Scopus citations


One factor peculiar to the practice of comparative ophthalmoscopy is the very large variation in ocular size of the animals examined, a factor which is ignored in current textbook treatments of the subject. We have computed values of lateral magnification, axial magnification, angular field of view and linear field of view for 19 species of terrestrial vertebrates. The dimensional value of a 1 diopter change in direct ophthalmoscopic focus was also determined. The anterior focal length of the eye in air and the vitreal refractive index were the intrinsic optical parameters of the animal's eye necessary for these calculations. Where these values were not available from the literature, the vitreal refractive index was assumed to be 1.336 and the anterior focal length was estimated as two-thirds of the axial length using a regression equation we derived from data in the literature. The angular field of view in ophthalmoscopy was shown to be invariant in the emmetropic eye and equal to the angular subtense of the ophthalmoscopic beam. The lateral field of view and retinal depth corresponding to a 1 diopter change in direct opthalmoscopic focus varied directly with the anterior focal length of the eye. The remaining parameters of lateral and axial magnification varied inversely with the anterior focal length of the animal's eyes. These findings provide a basis for evaluating the relative size and significance of ophthalmoscopically viewed features in terrestrial vertebrate eyes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)599-607
Number of pages9
JournalVision Research
Issue number4
StatePublished - 1987


  • Comparative ophthalmoscopy Optics Animal eyes Magnification

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ophthalmology
  • Sensory Systems


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