Correction of refractive errors in rhesus macaques (Macaca mulatta) involved in visual research.
Macaques are the most common animal model for studies in vision research, and due to their high value as research subjects, often continue to participate in studies well into old age. As is true in humans, visual acuity in macaques is susceptible to refractive errors. Here we report a case study in which an aged macaque demonstrated clear impairment in visual acuity according to performance on a demanding behavioral task. Refraction demonstrated bilateral myopia that significantly affected behavioral and visual tasks. Using corrective lenses, we were able to restore visual acuity. After correction of myopia, the macaque's performance on behavioral tasks was comparable to that of a healthy control. We screened 20 other male macaques to assess the incidence of refractive errors and ocular pathologies in a larger population. Hyperopia was the most frequent ametropia but was mild in all cases. A second macaque had mild myopia and astigmatism in one eye. There were no other pathologies observed on ocular examination. We developed a simple behavioral task that visual research laboratories could use to test visual acuity in macaques. The test was reliable and easily learned by the animals in 1 d. This case study stresses the importance of screening macaques involved in visual science for refractive errors and ocular pathologies to ensure the quality of research; we also provide simple methodology for screening visual acuity in these animals.
Mitchell, JF; Boisvert, CJ; Reuter, JD; Reynolds, JH; Leblanc, M
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