Effect of prolonged photoperiod on ocular tissues of domestic turkeys

Marina L. Leis, Mary Magdalene U. Dodd, Gregory Starrak, Catherine J. Vermette, Susantha Gomis, Bianca S. Bauer, Lynne S. Sandmeyer, Karen Schwean-Lardner, Henry L. Classen, Bruce H. Grahn

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Objective: The objective of this study is to investigate the structural and functional ocular changes that develop in turkeys exposed to a photoperiod of 23 h of light (23L) compared with a photoperiod of 14 h of light (14L). Procedures: Ten-day-old Nicholas heavy strain poults were exposed to either a 14L or 23L photoperiod. Between 16 and 18 weeks of age, equal numbers of turkeys per treatment group underwent ophthalmic examination (biomicroscopy, indirect ophthalmoscopy) (n = 14), refractometry (n = 20), keratometry (n = 20), tonometry (n = 20), and full-field electroretinography (ERG) (n = 14). Postmortem analyses included orbital magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) (n = 10) and light microscopy (n = 24) at 18 weeks of age. Results: Autorefraction revealed a median of −0.13 for sphere in both groups (P = 0.69), which is approximately emmetropia. The radius of curvature of the cornea was significantly higher (P = 0.0001) and the refractive power of the cornea was significantly lower (P = 0.0001) in the 23L group. The astigmatic power was significantly greater in the 23L group (P = 0.0001). Mean intraocular pressure did not differ between groups (P = 0.085). Turkeys from the 23L group had significantly larger globes in nasotemporal (P = 0.0007), dorsoventral (P = 0.015), and anterioposterior (P = 0.021) directions, and anterior chambers were more shallow (P = 0.0002). ERGs revealed the 23L group to have lower a- and b-wave amplitudes and significantly lower cone flicker amplitudes (P = 0.0008). Light microscopic examination revealed 23L turkeys to have significantly decreased numbers of nuclei in the outer nuclear layer (P = 0.0001) and inner nuclear layer (P = 0.0186), and decreased choroidal thickness (P = 0.0008). The prevalence of cataract in the 23L group was significantly higher (P = 0.001). Conclusions: Exposing turkeys to a prolonged photoperiod induces significant ocular disease.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)232-241
Number of pages10
JournalVeterinary Ophthalmology
Issue number3
StatePublished - May 2017
Externally publishedYes


  • buphthalmos
  • electroretinography
  • histopathology
  • photoperiod
  • refraction
  • turkey

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    Leis, M. L., Dodd, M. M. U., Starrak, G., Vermette, C. J., Gomis, S., Bauer, B. S., Sandmeyer, L. S., Schwean-Lardner, K., Classen, H. L., & Grahn, B. H. (2017). Effect of prolonged photoperiod on ocular tissues of domestic turkeys. Veterinary Ophthalmology, 20(3), 232-241. https://doi.org/10.1111/vop.12395