Outstanding improvements in vision can theoretically be expected using contact lenses that correct monochromatic aberrations of the eye. Imperfections in such correction inherent to contact lenses are lens flexure, translation, rotation, and tear layer effects. The effects of pupil size and accommodation on ocular aberration may cause further difficulties. The purpose of this study was to evaluate whether nonaxisymmetric soft contact lenses could efficiently compensate for higher-order aberrations induced by keratoconus and to what extent rotation and translation of the lens would degrade this perfect correction..
Height topography data of nine moderate to severe keratoconus corneas were obtained using the Maastricht Shape Topographer. Three-dimensional ray tracing was applied to each elevation topography to calculate aberrations in the form of a phase error mapping. The effect of a nonaxisymmetric soft contact lens tailored to the corneal aberrations was simulated by adding an opposite phase error mapping that would theoretically compensate all corneal-induced optical aberrations of the keratoconus eyes. Translation (0.25, 0.5, 0.75, and 1.0 mm) and rotation (2.5°, 5.0°, 7.5°, and 10°) mismatches were introduced. The modulation transfer function (MTF) of each eye with each displaced correction and with various pupil sizes (3, 5, and 7 mm) was deduced from the residual phase error mapping. A single performance criterion (mtfA) was calculated as the area under the MTF over a limited spatial frequency range (5 to 15 periods per degree). Finally, the ratio (RmtfA) of corrected mtfA over uncorrected mtfA provided an estimate of the global enhancement in contrast sensitivity with the customized lens.
The contrast improvement ratios RmtfA with perfectly located lenses were for an average pupil size of 4.5 mm between 6.5 and 200. For small translation errors (0.25 mm), RmtfA ranged between 2 and 7. The largest lens translation tested (1 mm) often resulted in poorer performance than without correction (RmtfA <1). More than threefold improvements were achieved with any of the angular errors experimented. RmtfA values showed significant variations for pupil diameters between 3 and 7 mm..
Three-dimensional aberration-customized soft contact lenses may drastically improve visual performance in patients with keratoconus. However, such lenses should be well positioned on the cornea. In particular, translation errors should not exceed 0.5 mm. Angular errors appeared to be less critical. It is further questioned whether the visual system is able to adapt to variations in optical performance of the correction in situ due to lens positioning and pupil size.