Impact of scattering and spherical aberration in contrast sensitivity

Journal of Vision
Guillermo M. Pérez; Silvestre Manzanera; Pablo Artal

We investigated the impact in spatial visual performance of the combined presence of different amounts of spherical aberration and intraocular scattering in the eye. In a group of subjects, contrast sensitivity at 6 cycles per degree was measured when viewing through holographic diffusers to produce different levels of scattering and with their spherical aberration simultaneously controlled using an adaptive-optics visual simulator. For elevated levels of scattering, the addition of small amounts of spherical aberration either does not decrease, or even may slightly increase, contrast sensitivity under some conditions. This seems to be due to an optical effect also demonstrated in an artificial eye. Although the visual effect is quite small, this finding could suggest a balancing mechanism where larger spherical aberration could keep relatively stable the retinal image quality under the presence of elevated scattering. This is actually the situation in older eyes with both spherical aberration and intraocular scatter being higher than in young eyes.