To evaluate the refractive error and visual acuity (VA) at various contrast levels in the two eyes of overnight orthokeratology (ortho-k) subjects, and to compare their postortho-k VA with the best corrected VA of spectacle-wearing control subjects matched for age, gender, and initial refractive error.
Distance postortho-k uncorrected and best corrected logMAR VA at four different contrast levels of 31 ortho-k (test) subjects (aged 7–35 years old) and the best corrected VA of 31 spectacle-wearing (control) subjects were measured and compared using the Waterloo Four-Contrast LogMAR VA Chart, which incorporated four sets of letters at different contrast levels: 90%, 48%, 21%, and 7%. Noncycloplegic manifest refractive error was measured in both eyes.
The mean ± SD percentage reductions in spherical equivalent achieved in the current study were 92% ± 11% in the better eye and 84% ± 14% in the worse eye of the test subjects. Postortho-k uncorrected VAs were significantly correlated with the residual overall blurring strength (length of the vector representing the residual refractive error) in both eyes at all contrast levels. The mean postortho-k uncorrected VA in the better eye were 0.00 ± 0.11, 0.08 ± 0.11, 0.21 ± 0.12, and 0.46 ± 0.13 with the 90%, 48%, 21%, and 7% contrast charts, respectively. These were comparable to the best corrected VA of the better eye of the control group with the 90% (–0.03 ± 0.07) and 48% contrast charts (0.03 ± 0.09), but worse than those of the control group with the 21% (0.13 ± 0.10) and 7% (0.35 ± 0.13) contrast charts. Postortho-k VA, with the four different contrast charts, improved by 0.07 to 0.12 log units in the better eye and 0.15 to 0.18 log units in the worse eye after correction of the residual refractive error; the improved VA was comparable to the best corrected VA of the control group.
Postortho-k visual outcomes were compromised primarily due to the presence of residual refractive error. Although the uncorrected postortho-k VA was comparable to the best corrected VA of the spectacle wearers at high-contrast levels, it was worse at low-contrast levels and caused a significant between-eye difference at all contrast levels. Therefore, we suggested that monocular VA at high- and low-contrast levels should be evaluated for ortho-k patients.