By Adrian Galbreth
Although it has long been thought that women's and men's eyes were much the same, a new study has suggested that there may actually be a fundamental difference between the two.
Researchers at the University of Valencia claim that women's pupils are large than men's - a study that could have a huge impact on the way in which people are scanned for eye conditions in the future.
Until now, a normal, non-pathological eye – also known as an emmetropic eye - has been studied very little in comparison with myopic and hypermetropic eyes, despite being the most common type amongst the population.
Juan Alberto Sanchis-Gimeno, a researcher at the University of Valencia and lead author of the study, said it is strange that we know very little about emmetropic eyes, even though they should be used for comparisons with myopic and hypermetropic eyes.
A study therefore determines their anatomical pattern so that they serve as a model for comparison with eyes that have refractive defects, such as myopia, hypermetropia and stigmatism, and pathological eyes, such as those that have cataracts.
Although the new report states that there are no big differences between most of the parameters analysed, it found that healthy emmetropic women have a wider pupil diameter than men.
"It is the first study that analyses these anatomical indexes in a large sample of healthy emmetropic subject," he explained, adding that new technology such as corneal elevation topography have allowed experts to increase their understanding of in vivo ocular anatomy.
Experts will now use the findings as a basis for studies that could lead to new ways of diagnosing eye problems.
"It will be necessary to investigate as to whether there are differences in the anatomical indexes studied between emmetropic, myopic and hypermetropic eyes, and between populations of different ethnic origin" Mr Sanchis-Gimeno noted.
by Martin Burns