PURPOSE. To determine the average optical performance of the human eye, in terms of the modulation transfer function (MTF). as a function of age.
METHODS. An apparatus was constructed to measure the ocular MTF, based on the recording of images of a green, 543-nm laser-point source after reflection in the retina and double pass through the ocular media. MTFs were computed from the average of three 4-second-exposure double-pass images recorded by a slow-scan, cooled charge-coupled device camera. The ocular MTF was measured for three artificial pupil diameters (3 nim, 4 mm, and 6 mm) with paralyzed accommodation under the best refractive correction in 20 subjects for each of three age categories: young subjects aged 20 to 30 years, middle-aged subjects aged 40 to 50 years, and older subjects aged 60 to 70 years. The selected subjects passed an ophthalmologic examination, excluding subjects with any form of ocular or retinal disease, spherical or cylindrical refractive errors exceeding 2 D, and corrected visual acuity lower than I (0.8 in the older age group).
RESULTS. The average MTF was determined for each age group and pupil diameter. A two-parameter analytical expression was proposed to represent the average MTF in each age group for every pupil diameter. The ocular MTFs declined as age increased from young to older groups. The SD of the MTF results within age groups was lower than the differences between the mean for each group.
CONCLUSIONS. The average optical performance of the human eye progressively declines with age. These MTF results can serve as a reference for determining mean ocular optics according to age.
(Invest Opbthalmol Vis Sci. 1999;4():203-213)