We investigated the formation of the aerial image in the double-pass method to measure the optical quality of the human eye. We show theoretically and empirically that the double pass through the eye’s optics forces the light distribution in the aerial image to be an even-symmetric function even if the single-pass point-spread function is asymmetric as a result of odd aberrations in the eye. The reason for this is that the doublepass imaging process is described by the autocorrelation rather than the autoconvolution of the single-pass point-spread functions, as has been previously assumed. This implies that although the modulation transfer function can be computed from the double-pass aerial image, the phase transfer function cannot. We also
show that the lateral chromatic aberration of the eye cannot be measured with the double-pass procedure because it is canceled by the second pass through the eye’s optics.