Wavefront technology developed for custom refractive surgeries may soon be used routinely by eye doctors to better diagnose vision problems in eye exams, perhaps making the familiar eye chart obsolete. Most people have had eye exams with a device called a phoropter, which contains many lenses of different powers. An ophthalmologist or optometrist changes the lenses in front of your eyes, asking which lens produces the best image. With this conventional approach, information you give the eye doctor is very subjective, based more on what you think you see instead of what you actually see. But a wavefront measurement is objective, because vision errors can be identified automatically by the way light waves travel through the eye.
Someday, these detailed wavefront measurements may replace conventional eyeglass or contact lens prescriptions, which describe vision problems only in terms of the eye’s nearsightedness, farsightedness and astigmatism. Just as custom (or “wavefront-guided”) refractive surgeries has the potential for producing sharper vision than conventional refractive surgeries, glasses and contact lenses made with this advanced technology may also produce better visual clarity than their conventional counterparts.