Corneal back surface power – interpreting keratometer readings and what predictions can tell us

Langenbucher, Achim; Eppig, Timo; Schröder, Simon; Cayless, Alan and Szentmáry, Nóra (2021). Corneal back surface power – interpreting keratometer readings and what predictions can tell us. Zeitschrift für Medizinische Physik, 31(1) pp. 89–93.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.zemedi.2020.08.002

Abstract

The classical Javal's rule allows estimation of refractive cylinder from keratometric astigmatism using scaling for vergence transformation, with an additional half dioptre of cylinder against-the-rule. With increasing popularity of toric intraocular lenses it has been shown that keratometric astigmatism does not fully reflect the entire astigmatism of the phakic or pseudophakic eye.

Researchers mostly argue that this mismatch is primarily due to astigmatism of the corneal back surface, and some papers propose correction strategies to consider this mismatch with the keratometric values. In this Technical Note we address this issue using a vector analysis and show the consequences of this correction on the front and back surface as well as total astigmatism of the cornea. As examples we focus on the correction strategies proposed by Abulafia and by Savini, frequently used in clinical practice.

The main conclusion is that, since corneal tomographers do not systematically show zero total astigmatism in situations where keratometry measures astigmatism against-the-rule of around 3 dioptres, there may be reasons other than the corneal back surface for this mismatch between keratometry and total astigmatism. A number of possible sources of this mismatch are proposed.

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