A procedure to calculate the wave aberration of the human cornea from its surface shape measured by videokeratography is presented. The wave aberration was calculated as the difference in optical path between the marginal rays and the chief ray refracted at the surface, for both on- and off-axis objects. The corneal shape elevation map was obtained from videokeratography and fitted to a Zernike polynomial expansion through a
Gram–Schmidt orthogonalization. The wave aberration was obtained also as a Zernike polynomial representation. The accuracy of the procedure was analyzed. For calibrated reference surface elevations, a rootmean- square error (RMSE) of 1 to 2 mm for an aperture 4–6 mm in diameter was obtained, and the RMSE associated with the experimental errors and with the fitting method was 0.2 mm. The procedure permits estimation
of the corneal wave aberration from videokeratoscopic data with an accuracy of 0.05–0.2 mm for a pupil 4–6 mm in diameter, rendering the method adequate for many applications. © 2000 Optical Society of America [S0740-3232(00)01205-9] OCIS codes: 330.4460, 330.5370, 330.7310, 080.1010.