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Frances Rucker’s Lab

The goal of the research in Dr. Rucker’s lab is to understand how the interaction between the properties of the visual stimuli and the sensitivity of an individual’s visual system drives nearsightedness—or myopia—development. The etiology of myopia is still unclear, but it is believed to be a failure of the emmetropization mechanism, a mechanism that alters the eye’s growth rate after birth to bring the image into focus on the retina. When the emmetropization process fails, and the eye grows too big, myopia occurs. Myopia is a common condition that affects over 30 million Americans, and vision problems associated with myopia are estimated to have cost around $3.9-7.2 billion annually in the US alone in 1999-2002. The results of these experiments are fundamental to understanding how the visual environment interacts with visual sensitivity and how this affects eye growth, and will ultimately pave the way to the development of visual environments that prevent myopia development.

Early experiments showed that myopia develops when there is a lack of contrast in the retinal image. More recently, we have shown that the eye depends on whether the contrast contains color or luminance components. Color contrast in the retinal image arises as a result of longitudinal chromatic aberration (LCA), and the shorter focal length of blue light compared to red light. To determine focus the eye tries to maximize luminance contrast, while using cues from the relative strength of signals to the longer- and shorter-wavelength sensitive cones to guide the rate of growth and the end point of emmetropization.

Dr. Rucker and Student Researchers

Rucker with group of students