The main applications of adaptive optics are the correction of the effects of atmospheric turbulence on ground-based telescopes and the correction of ocular aberrations in retinal imaging and visual simulation. The requirements for the wavefront corrector, usually a deformable mirror, will depend on the statistics of the aberrations to be corrected; here we compare the spatial statistics of wavefront aberrations expected in these two applications. We also use measured influence functions and numerical simulations to compare the performance of eight commercially available deformable mirrors for these tasks. The performance is studied as a function of the size of the optical pupil relative to the actuated area of the mirrors and as a function of the number of modes corrected. In the ocular case it is found that, with the exception of segmented mirrors, the performance is greatly enhanced by having a ring of actuators outside the optical pupil, as this improves the correction of the pupil edge. The effect is much smaller in the case of Kolmogorov wavefronts. It is also found that a high Strehl ratio can be obtained in the ocular case with a relatively low number of actuators if the stroke is sufficient. Increasing the number of actuators has more importance in the Kolmogorov case, even for the relatively weak turbulence considered here.
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