Effect of positive and negative defocus on contrast sensitivity in myopes and non-myopes

Vision Res. 2004;44(16):1869-78. doi: 10.1016/j.visres.2004.03.007.


This study investigated the effect of lens induced defocus on the contrast sensitivity function in myopes and non-myopes. Contrast sensitivity for up to 20 spatial frequencies ranging from 1 to 20 c/deg was measured with vertical sine wave gratings under cycloplegia at different levels of positive and negative defocus in myopes and non-myopes. In non-myopes the reduction in contrast sensitivity increased in a systematic fashion as the amount of defocus increased. This reduction was similar for positive and negative lenses of the same power (p = 0.474). Myopes showed a contrast sensitivity loss that was significantly greater with positive defocus compared to negative defocus (p = 0.001). The magnitude of the contrast sensitivity loss was also dependent on the spatial frequency tested for both positive and negative defocus. There was significantly greater contrast sensitivity loss in non-myopes than in myopes at low-medium spatial frequencies (1-8 c/deg) with negative defocus. Latent accommodation was ruled out as a contributor to this difference in myopes and non-myopes. In another experiment, ocular aberrations were measured under cycloplegia using a Shack-Hartmann aberrometer. Modulation transfer functions were calculated using the second order term for defocus as well as the fourth order Zernike term for spherical aberration. The theoretical maximal contrast sensitivity based on aberration data predicted the measured asymmetry in contrast sensitivity to positive and negative defocus that was observed in myopic subjects. The observed asymmetry in contrast sensitivity with positive and negative defocus in myopes may be linked to the altered accommodative response observed in this group.

MeSH terms

  • Accommodation, Ocular / physiology
  • Adult
  • Contrast Sensitivity / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Lens, Crystalline / physiology
  • Myopia / physiopathology*
  • Retina / physiology
  • Visual Acuity / physiology