purpose. To describe monochromatic optical aberrations of the eye as a function of age.
methods. One hundred fourteen subjects with a spherical equivalent within ±3.50 D from emmetropia, corrected visual acuity of 20/40 or better, and normal findings in an ophthalmic examination were enrolled. The mean age was 43.2 ± 24.5 years (range, 5.7–82.3). Monochromatic optical aberrations were measured with a Hartmann-Shack wavefront sensor after pharmacological dilation and cycloplegia.
results. For a 5-mm pupil and for third- to seventh-, third-, fourth-, and fifth- to seventh-order aberrations, as well as for coma and spherical aberrations, the root mean square (RMS) error as a function of age was modeled by a second-order polynomial regression. It decreased progressively through childhood, adolescence, and early adulthood; reached a minimum level during the fourth decade of life, then increased progressively with age, to age 82. For a 5-mm pupil, the mean modulation transfer function (MTF) was reduced in both the child-teenage (5–20 years; n = 29) and the elderly (61–82 years; n = 37) groups versus the middle-aged adult group (41–60 years; n = 24; P < 0.05). In young adults (21–40 years; n = 23) and elderly subjects, the MTF curves were very close and almost superimposed at spatial frequencies higher than 38 cyc/deg.
conclusions. Aberrations of the whole eye were objectively measured from early childhood to an advanced age, and the relationship between monochromatic aberrations and age has been shown to fit a quadratic model. The results suggest that the definition of emmetropization should be broadened to include the reduction of higher order aberrations.