Repeatability (test-retest variability) of refractive error measurement in clinical settings

Acta Ophthalmol Scand. 2006 Aug;84(4):532-6. doi: 10.1111/j.1600-0420.2006.00695.x.


Purpose: To estimate the repeatability of refractive error measurement (REM) in a clinical environment in cataractous, pseudophakic and healthy eyes.

Methods: The refractive error of patients referred for cataract surgery or consultation measured by ophthalmic professionals was re-examined and the measurement results were compared. A total of 99 eyes from 99 persons (41 cataractous, 36 pseudophakic and 22 healthy eyes) with visual acuity (VA) of 0.3-1.3 (logMAR 0.52 to - 0.11) were included. The differences between measurements 1 and 2 were calculated as 3-dimensional vector values and spherical equivalents (SEs) and expressed as the coefficient of repeatability (CR). The mean time interval between the first and second examinations was 45 days.

Results: The CRs for all eyes for vertical (V), torsional (T) and horizontal (H) vectors were 0.74 D, 0.34 D and 0.93 D, respectively. The CR of SE for all eyes was 0.74 D. Eyes with lower VA (0.3-0.45) had larger variability in vector and SE values but the differences between VA groups were not statistically significant. The difference in the mean defocus equivalent (DE) between measurements 1 and 2 was, however, significantly greater in the group with lower VA. In all VA groups the mean difference vector was very close to the zero vector, which means that there was no systematic difference.

Conclusions: Repeatability of refractive error measurements in clinical settings has a certain degree of variability. In this series, the variability in eyes with better VA was not great and was in accordance with earlier findings in healthy eyes. Eyes with lower VA had greater variability due to greater tolerance to defocus. Thus, conclusions concerning changes in the refractive state and the need to make changes in the refractive correction of eyes with poorer vision should be made with caution.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Cataract / physiopathology*
  • Cataract Extraction
  • Humans
  • Lens Implantation, Intraocular
  • Middle Aged
  • Postoperative Period
  • Preoperative Care
  • Pseudophakia / physiopathology*
  • Refraction, Ocular
  • Refractive Errors / physiopathology*
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Retinoscopy / methods
  • Visual Acuity / physiology