Refractive changes induced by electrocautery of the rabbit anterior lens capsule

Dana A. Jungschafer, Essam Saber, Kerry M. Zimmerman, Peter J. McDonnell, Steven E. Feldon

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The pathologic basis for presbyopia is classically attributed to lenticular sclerosis or atrophy of the ciliary muscle, but recent work suggests that thickening and loss of elasticity of the anterior lens capsule play an important role. As no practical means for attenuating or reversing the aging process of lens protein has been identified, alteration of the lens capsule eventually might prove to be a desirable alternative to spectacle correction in presbyopic individuals. This paper describes changes in the refractive properties of the lens resulting from alteration of the anterior lens capsule by application of focal cautery, using both an in vitro, in situ and an in vivo rabbit model. In vitro thermal treatment (electrocautery) of the capsule significantly increased the anterior curvature of the lens by an average of +2.95 diopters. Histologic examination of the treated lenses showed thinning of the capsule in the treated areas, as well as focal vacuolar degeneration in the lens substance beneath the lesions. In vivo thermal treatment of eyes induced a significant shift toward myopia, compared with control eyes. The accommodative range increased post-treatment relative to the controls, but the effect diminished over time, stabilizing near baseline at two to three weeks after treatment. Histologic examination showed localized changes but no signs of diffuse cataract formation. We conclude that the anterior capsule may play a significant role in the refractive power and accommodative changes in the crystalline lens. With further study of short-term and long-term effects and with development of noninvasive laser techniques, thermal treatment of the anterior lens capsule might eventually become a practical method of managing hyperopia and loss of accommodation in patients with advanced presbyopia.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)132-137
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of cataract and refractive surgery
Issue number2
StatePublished - 1994
Externally publishedYes


  • electrocautery
  • presbyopia
  • rabbit anterior lens capsule

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Ophthalmology
  • Sensory Systems


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