Accommodation is the process by which the human eye changes its focus to see objects at varying distances from the eye. For nearly 300 years, scientists have investigated and presented various views on the mechanism of accommodation. The purpose of this review is to present both the historical and contemporary theories that underpin the process of accommodation. Keywords such as ocular accommodation, mechanism of accommodation and accommodative mechanism were used to retrieve published material on the subject. Classical propositions by Thomas Young and Hermann von Helmholtz, amongst others, are presented.