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J Cataract Refract Surg. 2008 Aug;34(8):1339-44. doi: 10.1016/j.jcrs.2008.04.017.

Effect of 3rd-order aberrations on human vision.

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  • 1Vision Science Group, Institute on Aging, University of Murcia, Murcia, Spain.



To investigate the effect of 3rd-order aberrations on human vision.


Grupo de Ciencias de la Visión, University of Murcia, Murcia, Spain.


The 3rd-order aberrations coma and trefoil were induced with purpose-designed soft contact lenses, 3 inducing coma (low [0.05 microm], medium [0.13 microm], high [1.03 microm]) and 3 inducing trefoil (low [0.07 microm], medium [0.17 microm], high [0.96 microm]). Monocular high-contrast (HCVA) and low-contrast (LCVA) visual acuities and contrast sensitivity were measured in 11 subjects wearing contact lenses with a 5.0 mm artificial pupil.


The reduction in HCVA and LCVA was statistically significant only for the highest coma and trefoil values (P<.0001). For coma, the mean change in HCVA was 0.193 logMAR +/- 0.100 (SD) and in LCVA, 0.386 +/- 0.136 logMAR. For trefoil, it was 0.204 +/- 0.128 logMAR and 0.395 +/- 0.141 logMAR, respectively. No differences were found for the lower degrees (P>.2). Contrast sensitivity was significantly reduced with the highest coma and trefoil values (P<.0001) (mean change 0.390 +/- 0.157 and 0.404 +/- 0.135, respectively). Lower degrees did not cause significant changes in contrast sensitivity (P>.1). The effect of induced coma and trefoil on HCVA, LCVA, and contrast sensitivity was similar at each level of induced aberration (P>.01).


Large values of coma and trefoil (approximately 1 mum) significantly reduced visual performance. Only patients with high 3rd-order aberrations, such as those that occur in refractive surgery or in cases of distorted optics, would benefit from this correction.

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