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Tolerance to visual defocus

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Abstract

Low-resolution optical systems are more tolerant to defocus than are high-resolution systems. We wished to determine whether this principle applies to human vision. We used psychophysical methods to measure the effects of defocus in normal eyes under low-resolution conditions. Modulation transfer of sine-wave gratings was measured as a function of dioptric defocus at low and medium spatial frequencies. We defined the depth of focus at a given spatial frequency to be the dioptric range for which the modulation transfer exceeds 50% of its peak value. For dilated pupils, depth of focus increased from about 2.5 diopters (D) at 3.5 cycles/deg to about 17 D at 0.25 cycles/deg. From our results we predicted that tasks requiring only low spatial frequencies will be more tolerant to defocus than tasks requiring higher spatial frequencies. This prediction was confirmed in a letter-recognition experiment. The increasing tolerance to defocus at low spatial frequencies also implies that individuals with low acuity will be more tolerant to defocus than people with normal vision. We confirmed this prediction by measuring tolerance to defocus in 30 low-vision eyes.

© 1987 Optical Society of America

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