Effects of defocus and pupil size on human contrast sensitivity

Niall C. Strang*, David A. Atchison, Russell L. Woods

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

44 Citations (Scopus)


Defocus lowers the contrast sensitivity function (CSF), producing a complex function with local dips and peaks. Previously, we were able to predict the shape of the CSF with large pupils from measured transverse aberrations with hypermetropic defocus but not with myopic defocus (Atchison et al., 1998c, J. Opt. Soc. Am. A. 15, 2536). As there is no reason that myopic defocus should be more difficult to predict than hypermetropic defocus, we modified the procedure to try to improve CSF predictions with myopic defocus. Also, we extended the study to consider a range of pupil sizes. CSFs were measured for three subjects at three defocus levels (in- focus, -2D and +2D) and three pupil sizes (2 mm, 4 mm and 6 mm). Using a diffraction optics model, transverse aberration measures and in-focus CSF measures, we predicted the defocused CSFs. The predicted defocused CSFs were lower than the in-focus CSF as expected, and had complex shapes that varied with defocus and pupil size and between subjects. While a few predictions were poor, generally, the overall magnitude and shape of the defocused CSFs were well predicted and similarly so for myopic and hypermetropic defocus. Some further improvements in technique are indicated.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)415-426
Number of pages12
JournalOphthalmic and Physiological Optics
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 1 Sep 1999
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ophthalmology
  • Optometry
  • Sensory Systems


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