Abstract

Star images are entoptic phenomena that most people can perceive when looking at bright point sources in darkness. Diffraction and/or ocular aberrations seem to be a plausible cause for the star patterns, but to our knowledge no objective recordings of retinal optical images showing these characteristic patterns have been reported before. We have projected a small Gaussian spot of light onto the retina and registered the aerial image formed externally through a fully dilated pupil {one-and-a-half-pass method [J. Opt. Soc. Am. A 12, 2385 (1995)]}. We have verified that, for fully dilated pupils (>9 mm), the blur caused by the finite size of the Gaussian spot is small. Consequently, these aerial images are a reasonably good approximation of the (inverted) optical point-spread function of the eye. These objectively recorded images displayed the distinctive radiating patterns of star images, which were compared with subjective patterns sketched out by the same observers. A strikingly close match was found between the objective and the subjective patterns of the same eyes. In addition, we computed the diffraction patterns produced by a simple schematic model of the suture lines of the anterior lens surface, also obtaining star-shaped images. These results support the commonly accepted hypothesis of a purely optical origin of subjective star images.

© 1997 Optical Society of America

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