PURPOSE: To assess the relationship of forward and backward scattering and corneal higher-order aberrations (HOAs) with corrected distance visual acuity (CDVA) after penetrating keratoplasty (PK). METHODS: This retrospective study comprised 25 eyes of 25 consecutive patients who underwent PK using the VisuMax femtosecond laser system and age-matched 25 eyes of 25 healthy subjects. We quantitatively assessed objective scattering index (OSI) using the double-pass instrument (OQAS II, Visiometrics), corneal densitometry (CD) and corneal HOAs with the Scheimpflug rotating camera (Pentacam HR, Oculus) 1 year postoperatively. RESULTS: The OSI, CD, and corneal HOAs were significantly larger in the PK group than those in the control group (p ≤ 0.011). We found significant correlations of logMAR CDVA with the OSI (r = 0.477, p = 0.016), and with the anterior, posterior, and total corneal HOAs of the central 4-mm zone (anterior: r = 0.573, p = 0.003, posterior: r = 0.596, p = 0.002, total: r = 0.472, p = 0.017), but no significant association with the CD of the 0-2 mm zone at any layers (anterior: r = 0.236, p = 0.257, center: r = 0.139, p = 0.506, posterior: r = 0.073, p = 0.728, total: r = 0.212, p = 0.308). Similar results were obtained when the analysis was repeated with corneal HOAs of the central 6-mm zone and CDs in 2-6 mm zone. CONCLUSIONS: Our pilot study demonstrated that the postoperative CDVA was significantly correlated with OSI and corneal HOAs, but not with backward scattering in post-PK eyes, suggesting that OSI as well as corneal HOAs plays an essential role in postoperative visual performance after PK.