Shulei Xiao

Medical Art MSc

An animated e-learning resource for teaching accommodation reflex of the eye


The lens accommodation reflex is a reflex reaction when the eye looks at a distant object and then focuses on a near object (or vice versa). Known that some undergraduate medical students have difficulty visualising this autonomic reflex of the eye when studying, this online resource is created to offer a 2D animation showing how the lens accommodation reflex work in terms of muscle movement and lens shape change. It can be used by students supplementary to their course.

In this project, a website about the lens accommodation reflex is created, embedded with a 2D educational animation demonstrating how this reflex works. Three main responses of the eye involved in this process are also introduced in relevant 2D anatomical illustrations and written content.

The storyline of this 2D animation begins with an everyday life scene. It then introduces the concept of lens accommodation reflex and moves to the anatomical basis involving neural signalling pathways. The animation ends with a typical clinical case, presbyopia, helping the viewers relate this autonomic reflex to their personal life.

The change of focus

The diagram has four section. The first is a persons face. The second is a window with a phone in hand at distance. The third is a person looking at a phone. The fourth is the phone up close with the window view in the background blurred.

Imagine when you are looking out of the window, a text message comes on the phone. Then your gaze direction changes from the distant landscape to the nearer phone screen. When focusing on a near object from a distant object, the eye is controlled by accommodation reflex.

Three coordinated changes of the eye

The diagram has three sections. The first shows a scull with eyeballs. The second is a side view of an eye ball, and the third shows a cross section of the eye.

In response to near vision, the eyes undergo three coordinated changes: convergence of the eyes, constriction of the pupil, and increase of the curvature of the lens.

The afferent and efferent pathways

The diagram has two sections. The first shows the afferent pathway of the eye. The eyeball has an optical nerve running to the primary visual cortex. There is a optic chiasm, tract, radiation and lateral geniculate nucleuses between them. There is also a oculomotor nerve connecting to the eyeball. The second shows the efferent pathway. There is a ciliary ganglion connecting to the visual association  cortex. Between them, is the Edinger-westphal and Oculomotor neclues.

The process of the accommodation reflex involves neural signalling via both afferent and efferent pathways.

Support this graduate

If you would like to follow my future work, feel free to follow me on Instagram.