Optical quality of the human eye

J Physiol. 1966 Oct;186(3):558-78. doi: 10.1113/jphysiol.1966.sp008056.


1. Optical quality of the eye was measured at eight pupil sizes between 1.5 and 6.6 mm diameter by recording the faint light emerging from the eye; this light was reflected from the bright image of a thin line on the fundus.2. The nature of the fundus reflexion was examined; it was found that the fundus acts very much like a perfect diffuser while retaining polarization.3. Using the result that the fundus acts like a diffuser, the recorded line images were Fourier analysed to provide modulation transfer functions. These functions indicate an optical quality considerably higher than that found in previous physical studies.4. Linespread profiles were then derived from the modulation transfer functions. These profiles are 40% narrower than those of previous physical studies for a 3.0 mm pupil. The narrowest profile occurred with a 2.4 mm pupil.5. Our results demonstrate that physical and psychophysical studies can yield similar estimates of optical quality. The influence of optical factors not common to both techniques is discussed. Evidence for the existence of neural ;image sharpening' mechanisms is reviewed.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Fundus Oculi / physiology
  • Humans
  • Ocular Physiological Phenomena*
  • Optics and Photonics
  • Vision, Ocular / physiology*