The aim of this study was to investigate the effect of contact lenses on the optical performance of the eye by measuring wavefront aberrations for the eyes with or without contact lenses.
A sensitive aberrometer was used to measure wavefront aberrations for 54 eyes in 27 subjects for three conditions: with no contact lens (non-CL), with soft-contact lenses (soft-CL) and with rigid gas permeable contact lenses (RGP-CL). The root mean square (RMS) value of the wavefront aberrations and Zernike aberrations were calculated.
A change in the RMS values of wavefront aberrations with CL wear was observed for every eye. The change in wavefront aberrations with CL wearing was found to vary substantially from individual to individual. Relative to the mean RMS value of the group for the non-CL condition, the mean RMS value was increased for the soft-CL condition and was significantly reduced for the RGP-CL condition. A significant increase in mean RMS for the soft-CL condition was found when astigmatisms were removed. Although soft-CL wearing resulted in significant increases in higher orders of Zernike aberrations (fourth, fifth, and higher), the RGP-CL condition led to a significant decrease in second-order Zernike aberrations. For the eyes with low wavefront aberrations in the non-CL condition, either soft-CL wearing or RGP-CL wearing results in increases in the RMS values.
Contact lens wearing, either with soft lenses or the RGP lenses, causes changes in the wavefront aberrations of the eye. The changes in wavefront aberrations vary substantially from eye to eye. Although soft-CL wearing tends to induce more higher-order aberrations, RGP-CL effectively reduces the astigmatisms. Both soft-CL and RGP-CL induce more aberrations for the eyes that have low wavefront aberrations. The change in wavefront aberrations due to contact lens wearing may explain the changes in visual performance for contact lens wearers reported previously.