Higher order aberrations, refractive error development and myopia control: a review

Clin Exp Optom. 2020 Jan;103(1):68-85. doi: 10.1111/cxo.12960. Epub 2019 Sep 6.


Evidence from animal and human studies suggests that ocular growth is influenced by visual experience. Reduced retinal image quality and imposed optical defocus result in predictable changes in axial eye growth. Higher order aberrations are optical imperfections of the eye that alter retinal image quality despite optimal correction of spherical defocus and astigmatism. Since higher order aberrations reduce retinal image quality and produce variations in optical vergence across the entrance pupil of the eye, they may provide optical signals that contribute to the regulation and modulation of eye growth and refractive error development. The magnitude and type of higher order aberrations vary with age, refractive error, and during near work and accommodation. Furthermore, distinctive changes in higher order aberrations occur with various myopia control treatments, including atropine, near addition spectacle lenses, orthokeratology and soft multifocal and dual-focus contact lenses. Several plausible mechanisms have been proposed by which higher order aberrations may influence axial eye growth, the development of refractive error, and the treatment effect of myopia control interventions. Future studies of higher order aberrations, particularly during childhood, accommodation, and treatment with myopia control interventions are required to further our understanding of their potential role in refractive error development and eye growth.

Keywords: eye growth; higher order aberrations; myopia control; refractive error development; visual experience.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Accommodation, Ocular / physiology
  • Astigmatism / physiopathology
  • Contact Lenses, Hydrophilic
  • Corneal Wavefront Aberration / physiopathology*
  • Eye / growth & development
  • Eyeglasses
  • Humans
  • Myopia / physiopathology
  • Myopia / prevention & control*
  • Orthokeratologic Procedures
  • Refractive Errors / physiopathology