We investigated how the optical aberrations associated with the anterior surface of the human cornea change with age in a normal population. Aberrations were computed for a central part of the cornea (4, 5, and 6 mm in diameter) from the elevation data provided by a videokeratographic system. Measurements were obtained in 59 normal healthy, near-emmetropic [spherical equivalent lower than 2 diopters (D)] subjects of three age ranges: younger (20–30 years old), middle-aged (40–50 years old), and older (60–70 years old). The average corneal radius decreased with age and the cornea became more spherical. As a consequence, spherical aberration was significantly larger in the middle-aged and older corneas. Coma and other higher-order aberrations also were correlated with age. The root mean square of the wave aberration exhibited a linear positive correlation (P , 0.003) with age for the three ranges of pupil diameter. Despite a large intersubject variability, the average amount of aberration in the human cornea tends to increase moderately with age. However, this increase alone is not enough to explain the substantial reduction previously found in retinal image quality with age. The change in the aberrations of the lens with age and the possible loss of part of the balance between corneal and lenticular aberrations in youth may be the main factors responsible for the reduction of retinal image quality through the life span. © 2000 Optical Society of America [S0740-3232(00)01610-0]
OCIS codes: 330.4460, 330.5370, 330.7310.