Objectives: To study the effects of radial keratotomy (RK) and photorefractive keratectomy (PRK) on contrast sensitivity and glare disability using 4 different devices, and to correlate subjective complaints with obj ective scores of visual performance.
Methods: Preoperative contrast sensitivity for 30 eyes undergoing RK and 30 eyes undergoing PRK was compared with contrast sensitivity at 1, 3, and 6 months postoperatively using the CSV 1000, MCT (Multivision Contrast Tester) 8000, and Pelli-Robson chart. The BAT (Brightness Acuity Tester) and MCT 8000 were used to test for daytime and nighttime glare disability, respectively. At 3 and 6 months postoperatively, a questionnaire was administered to assess visual performance subjectively.
Results: Contrast sensitivity decreased after RK and PRK up to the sixth postoperative month, while glare disability was significantly increased at 1 month after PRK as determined by the MCT 8000 and the BAT, and at the third and sixth months after RK using the MCT 8000. Compared with RK, PRK significantly decreased contrast sensitivity as measured with the MCT 8000 at all spatial frequencies 1 month postoperatively. No significant difference in visual performance between patients undergoing RK and PRK was observed with the CSV 1000, the Pelli-Robson chart, or the BAT up to 6 months postoperatively. No consistent difference was found between glare disability scores of patients undergoing RK and PRK when measured with the MCT 8000. Subjective reports of problems with night driving and blurring correlated only with glare disability scores of the MCT 8000 3 months after RK.
Conclusions: Both RK and PRK reduce contrast sensitivity and cause glare disability; however, the relative effect is highly dependent on the time postoperative testing is performed and the instrument used for testing. Contrast sensitivity and glare disability, as measured by the instruments used in this study, do not accurately reflect patients' subjective assessment of visual performance in daily life.