Small Amounts of Chromatic Aberration Influence Dynamic Accommodation

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The prevailing view of accommodation is that the eye changes focus to maximize luminance contrast by trial and error. Negative feedback is considered essential in this view because luminance contrast provides no directional information. Fincham proposed an alternate view in which longitudinal (axial) chromatic aberration (LCA) provides a directional stimulus for accommodation. For spatial frequencies above approximately 0.5 cpd contrast of the retinal image is different for long, middle, and short spectral waveband components of the image. We varied the amount of LCA in small steps (0.25 D) to determine how much LCA is needed to enhance or impair the response. An infrared optometer monitored accommodation continuously while subjects viewed a yellow/ black square-wave grating (3.5 cpd) in a Badal stimulus system. The yellow/black grating was produced by superimposing red (600 nm) and green (520 nm) gratings, and LCA was increased, decreased, neutralized, and reversed by repositioning the red grating component along the axis of the optical system. Target vergence was modulated sinusoidally (0.2 Hz) over a 1 D range (1.5 to 2.5 D) and gain and phase-lag of the accommodation response were determined by Fourier analysis. Subjects accommodated well as long as a normal amount of LCA was present—0.5 D in the correct direction enhanced accommodative gain, and 0.25 D in the reverse direction markedly inhibited the response. We conclude that the contrast of the retinal image in different spectral wavebands specifies focus of the eye, and provides a powerful directional stimulus for reflex accommodation.

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