Aniseikonia is an ocular condition where there is a significant difference in the perceived size of images. It can occur as an overall difference between the two eyes, or as a difference in a particular meridian.
Retinal image size is determined by many factors. The size and position of the object being viewed affects the characteristics of the light entering the system. Corrective lenses affect these characteristics and are used commonly to correct refractive error. The optics of the eye including its refractive power and axial length also play a major role in retinal image size.
Aniseikonia can occur naturally or be induced by the correction of a refractive error, usually anisometropia (having significantly different refractive errors between each eye) or antimetropia (being myopic (nearsighted) in one eye and hyperopic (farsighted) in the other.) Meridional aniseikonia occurs when these refractive differences only occur in one meridian (see astigmatism). Refractive surgery can cause aniseikonia in much the same way that it is caused by glasses and contacts.
One cause of significant anisometropia and subsequent aniseikonia has been aphakia. Aphakic patients do not have a crystalline lens. The crystalline lens is often removed because of opacities called cataracts. The absence of this lens left the patient highly hyperopic (farsighted) in that eye. For some patients the removal was only performed on one eye, resulting in the anisometropia / aniseikonia. Today, this is rarely a problem because when the lens is removed in cataract surgery, an intraocular lens, or IOL is left in its place.
A way to demonstrate aniseikonia is to hold a near target (ex. pen or finger) approximately 6 inches directly in front of one eye. The person then closes one eye, and then the other. The person should notice that the target appears larger to the eye that it is directly in front of. When this object is viewed with both eyes, it is seen with a small amount of aniseikonia. The principles behind this demonstration are relative distance magnification (closer objects appear larger) and asymmetrical convergence (the target is not an equal distance from each eye).
Treatment is done by changing the optical magnification properties of the auxiliary optics (corrective lenses). The optical magnification properties of spectacle lenses can be adjusted by changing parameters like the base curve, vertex distance, and center thickness. Contact lenses may also provide a better optical magnification to reduce the difference in image size. The difference in magnification can also be eliminated by a combination of contact lenses and glasses (creating a weak telescope system). The optimum design solution will depend on different parameters like cost, cosmetic implications, and if the patient can tolerate wearing a contact lens.
Note however that before the optics can be designed, first the aniseikonia should be measured. When the image disparity is astigmatic (cylindrical) and not uniform, images can appear wider, taller, or diagonally different. When the disparity appears to vary across the visual field (field-dependent aniseikonia), as may be the case with an epiretinal membrane or retinal detachment, the aniseikonia cannot fully be corrected with traditional optical techniques like standard corrective lenses. However, partial correction often improves the patient's vision comfort significantly. Little is known yet about the possibilities of using surgical intervention to correct aniseikonia.
Gr. "an" = "not", + "is(o)" = "equal," + "eikōn" = "image"
- Adelbert Ames, Jr. (Dartmouth Eye Institute, research in the 1930s and 1940s on aniseikonia)
- macropsia, micropsia
- Berens, Conrad; Loutfallah, Michael (1938), "Aniseikonia: A Study of 836 Patients Examined with the Ophthalmo-Eikonometer", Trans Am Ophthalmol Soc., 36, pp. 234–67, PMC 1315746, PMID 16693153
- Bannon, Robert E.; Neumueller, Julius; Boeder, Paul; Burian, Hermann M. (June 1970), "Aniseikonia and space perception: After 50 years", American Journal of Optometry & Archives of American Academy of Optometry, 47 (6): 423–441, doi:10.1097/00006324-197006000-00001
- Bisno, David C. (1994), Eyes in the Storm—President Hopkins' Dilemma: The Dartmouth Eye Institute, Norwich, Vermont: Norwich Book Press, p. 288