Review Article

Ocular aberrations and wavefront aberrometry: A review

Holly A. Unterhorst, Alan Rubin
African Vision and Eye Health | Vol 74, No 1 | a21 | DOI: | © 2015 Holly A. Unterhorst, Alan Rubin | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 10 September 2014 | Published: 19 May 2015

About the author(s)

Holly A. Unterhorst, Department of Optometry, University of Johannesburg, South Africa
Alan Rubin, Department of Optometry, University of Johannesburg, South Africa


Wavefront aberrations can be described as deviations of the wavefront exiting the eye froma reference wavefront that is aberration free and diffraction limited. Ocular aberrations canbe sub-categorised as lower and higher order aberrations. Ocular aberrations have promptedinterest amongst the ocular healthcare community owing to their influences on the visualfunctioning of patients as well as differences observed in ocular aberrations through the useof refractive surgery both pre- and post-operatively. Uncompensated refractive error remainsone of the most common reasons for which patients consult optometrists. Compensationof refractive error, or lower order aberrations, has become a routine procedure during anoptometric examination. However, there are some patients who experience visual symptomseven after their refractive errors have been compensated via spectacles or contact lenses.Higher-order aberrations may be the source of these visual disturbances. Refractive surgeryhas been found to influence and even induce various changes in higher-order aberrationspost-operatively, which in turn has led to increased interest in wavefront aberrations and howthe measurement of these aberrations can improve diagnosis and treatment within optometryand ophthalmology.


Higher and lower order aberrations, wavefront-guided excimer laser, refractive surgery, wavefront aberrations, Zernike polynomials and coefficients


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