The Scan Tox™ System is a method for monitoring lens optical quality (focus or lack of focus) in culture conditions, which mimic conditions inside the eye. The ocular lens is an ideal organ for long-term culture experiments because it has no direct blood supply and no connection to the nervous system. The Scan Tox™ System makes it possible to keep lenses for long-term studies of up to a few weeks. The use of cultured lenses, mainly bovine, replaces the need for testing the effects of potentially damaging agents on live animals. This optical monitoring apparatus uses a computer-operated scanning laser beam, a video-camera system and a video frame analyzer to record the focal length and transmittance of the cultured lens. The scanner is designed to measure the focal length at points across the diameter of the lens. The lens container permits the lens to be exposed to a vertical laser beam from below. The laser source projects its light onto a plain mirror, which is mounted at 45° on a carriage assembly. The mirror reflects the laser beam directly up through the test lens. The mirror carriage is connected to a positioning motor, which moves the laser beam across the lens. The camera sees the cross section of the beams and, by examining the image at each position of the mirror, Scan Tox™ software is able to measure the quality of the lens by calculating the back vertex distance for each beam position. The cultured lenses continue to maintain their original refractive function. When foreign substances are introduced to a cultured lens, the Scan Tox™ System measures the resulting optical response. This provides a very sensitive means to follow early damage to the eye lens. Because the lens is maintained in an intact state in solutions that are similar to those inside the eye, the lens retains its normal recuperative powers. So in addition to measuring early damage, this system allows measurement of recovery from damage.