You are most likely familiar with the traditional vision exams used to prescribe corrective eyewear. The eye doctor uses a machine that contains lenses of different strengths and switches the lenses until the one that produces the best image is found. The results of this exam are somewhat subjective, and are based on what patients think they see rather than what they actually see.
Wavefront eye exams are different in that they provide an objective and automatic measurement of refractive error. The Wavefront machine identifies all vision errors in just a few minutes with much greater detail. This technology has given eye doctors the ability to diagnose and treat both common visual errors and higher-order visual errors.
A Wavefront eye exam is a test that measures refractory problems. Wavefront eye exams are performed with an aberrometer, which is a scanning diagnostic instrument that measures the visual aberrations of the eye. The machine analyzes how light refracts as it passes through the focusing components of the eye. Any distortions that occur as the light travels through the eye are called aberrations.
Wavefront technology allows eye doctors to diagnose common lower-order vision errors like nearsightedness, farsightedness, and astigmatism, as well as more complex vision errors, or higher-order aberrations.
For years, conventional eye examinations have allowed doctors to diagnose and treat common lower-order visual aberrations. Most higher-order aberrations were ignored because it was thought their impact on vision was only minor and there was no way to diagnose or treat them. In time, higher-order aberrations began to receive more attention as eye specialists realized they were the source of a variety of visual side effects after LASIK surgery, including visual symptoms like halos and ghost images.
Wavefront technology now allows doctors to diagnose higher-order visual aberrations like coma, trefoil, and spherical aberration. As a result, new Wavefront-guided lasers can be used to correct these visual disturbances. These custom Wavefront LASIK procedures can produce vision that is sharper than what is achieved with traditional LASIK.
Wavefront eye exams are simple and straightforward. You place your chin on a rest and are asked to look into a device and focus on a light. In just a few seconds, the Wavefront examination is complete. During this time, the computer records how light is distorted as it passes through the eye.
The machine produces a visual map of both eyes, which eye surgeons can use as a basis for lens prescriptions or to custom design a refractive surgery procedure like LASIK.