Modelling the effects of secondary spherical aberration on refractive error, image quality and depth of focus

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To examine the role of Zernike secondary spherical aberration and its component terms on refraction, image quality and depth of focus.


Computational methods were used to define wavefronts with controlled levels of r6, r4 and r2 terms, and image quality associated with these terms for a range of target vergences. Target vergences that generated maximum image quality were used as an objective measures of refractive error.


Unlike primary Zernike spherical aberration, which generates peak image quality with a near paraxial focus, in the absence of other higher order aberrations, peak image quality with secondary spherical aberration is achieved with a near marginal focus. When alone, positive primary and secondary spherical aberration induce small hyperopic shifts in refraction, but in the presence of other higher order aberrations, secondary spherical aberration can induce significant myopic shifts in refractive error, as predicted by the combined lower order r4 & r2 component of Symbol. The predicted expansion in depth of focus associated with increased primary or secondary spherical aberration is mostly absent if a strict image quality criterion is applied. The expansion of depth of focus observed with a low image quality criterion when opposite sign Symbol and Symbol are combined is primarily due to the elevated r4 term.


Secondary Zernike spherical aberration can have a significant impact on refractive error, image quality and depth of focus, but mostly due to the lower order components within this polynomial. Our analysis shows that the r6 term that defines secondary spherical aberration actually narrows rather than expands depth of focus, when in the presence of the r4 term within Symbol. Therefore, a multifocal lens generated with exclusively primary spherical aberration is likely to be more effective than one that includes opposite sign of primary and secondary spherical aberration.

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