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We compare the radiative transfer equation for media with constant refractive index with the radiative transfer equation for media with spatially varying refractive indices [J. Opt. A Pure App. Opt. 1, L1 (1999)] and obtain approximate conditions under which the former equation is accurate for modeling light propagation in scattering media with spatially varying refractive indices. These conditions impose restrictions on the variations of the refractive index, the gradient of the refractivedoi:10.1364/josaa.20.002046 pmid:14620333 fatcat:g2vmsogshjch5jvgaif6c7gske