Causes of spherical aberration induced by laser refractive surgery

J Cataract Refract Surg. 2005 Jan;31(1):127-35. doi: 10.1016/j.jcrs.2004.10.046.


Purpose: To develop a corneal model to better explain how refractive surgery procedures induce spherical aberration.

Setting: Department of Ophthalmology and Center for Visual Science, University of Rochester, Rochester, New York, USA.

Methods: The preoperative cornea was modeled as a rotationally symmetric surface with various radii of curvature and asphericities. The postoperative cornea was defined as the difference between the preoperative cornea and an ablation thickness profile computed based on the Munnerlyn equation. A ray-tracing program and Zernike polynomial fitting were used to calculate the induced amount of spherical aberration assuming a fixed ablation depth per pulse or a variable ablation depth depending on the incidence angle of each pulse on the cornea. A biological eye model of the corneal surface change after laser refractive surgery was also developed to explain the induced spherical aberrations after myopic and hyperopic treatments.

Results: The clinical data showed that positive spherical aberration was induced after myopic correction and negative spherical aberration increased after hyperopic correction. In contrast, assuming a fixed ablation depth per pulse, the theoretical prediction was that negative spherical aberration with myopic treatment and positive spherical aberration with hyperopic treatment would increase. However, when assuming a variable ablation depth per pulse caused by non-normal incidence of laser spot on the cornea, the theoretically predicted induction of spherical aberration tends to fit better with the myopic and hyperopic clinical data. The effect of a variable ablation depth accounted for approximately half the clinically observed amount of spherical aberration. The biological model of the corneal surface change used to explain this remaining discrepancy showed the magnitude of the biological response in myopic correction is 3 times smaller than in hyperopic correction and that the direction of the biological response in hyperopic treatment is opposite that in myopic treatment.

Conclusions: This nontoric eye model, which separates the effects of differences in ablation efficiency and biological corneal surface change quantitatively, explains how spherical aberration is induced after myopic and hyperopic laser refractive surgery. With the corneal topographic data, this model can be incorporated into the ablation algorithm to decrease induced spherical aberrations, improving the outcomes of conventional and customized treatments.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Computer Simulation*
  • Cornea / pathology*
  • Cornea / physiopathology
  • Corneal Topography
  • Humans
  • Hyperopia / surgery
  • Keratomileusis, Laser In Situ*
  • Models, Biological*
  • Myopia / surgery
  • Postoperative Complications*
  • Refractive Errors / etiology*
  • Refractive Errors / physiopathology