The relationship between the stretching capability of the anterior capsule and zonules

E. I. Assia, D. J. Apple*, R. C. Morgan, U. F.C. Legler, S. J. Brown

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The stretching capability of the zonules was studied in 40 human eyes obtained postmortem from 27 patients. A continuous circular capsulorhexis (CCC) (2.2-6.8 mm) was performed, and the lenses were removed by either phacoemulsification (26 eyes) or planned extracapsular cataract extraction (ECCE) (14 eyes). Maximal zonular stretch was calculated as the difference in distance between the ciliary processes and the zonular insertion at rest and after maximal stretch. This zonular stretch test showed that zonules can stretch to a mean distance of 3.82 mm before rupturing. Capsular elasticity was measured in 35 of the eyes by gradually opening a modified caliper until the capsular opening was torn. The ratio between the circumference at rupture and the circumference at rest was used as an index of capsular elasticity. Circumference of the intact capsulorhexis could be enlarged an additional 62% before a radial tear occurred. In most cases, no significant correlation was seen between the capsular and zonular capability to stretch. Maximal zonular stretch decreased significantly with age by approximately 0.5 mm for every 5 yr, whereas capsular elasticity did not show a significant correlation with age. Two eyes with pseudoexfoliation had relatively friable zonules but the capsular elasticity was within normal limits. Patient age is probably the best indicator of the stretching capability of the zonules.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2835-2839
Number of pages5
JournalInvestigative Ophthalmology and Visual Science
Issue number10
StatePublished - 1991
Externally publishedYes


  • capsule elasticity
  • capsulectomy
  • pseudoexfoliation syndrome
  • stretch test
  • zonular elasticity


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