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Effects of interactions among wave aberrations on optical image quality


Wave aberrations degrade the optical quality of the eye relative to the diffraction limit, but there are situations in which having slightly aberrated optics can provide some relative visual benefits. This fact led us to consider whether interactions among aberrations in the eye’s wavefront produce an advantage for image quality relative to wavefronts with randomized combinations of aberrations with the same total RMS error. Total ocular wave aberrations from two experimental groups and corneal wave aberrations from one group were measured and expressed as Zernike polynomial expansions through the seventh-order. In a series of Monte Carlo simulations, modulation transfer functions (MTFs) for the measured wave aberrations were compared to distributions of artificial MTFs for wavefronts created by randomizing the sign or orientation of the aberrations, while maintaining the RMS error within each Zernike order. In a control condition, “synthetic” model eyes were produced by choosing each individual aberration term at random from individuals in the experimental group, and again MTFs were compared for original and randomized signs. Results were summarized by the MTF ratio: real MTF/mean simulated MTF, as a function of spatial frequency. For a 6mm pupil, the mean MTF ratio for total ocular aberrations was greater than 1.0 up to 60 cycles per degree, suggesting that the eye’s aberrations are not independent and that there may be a positive functional consequences to their interrelations. This positive relation did not hold for corneal aberrations alone, or for the synthetic eyes.


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