Senescent changes in scotopic contrast sensitivity

Vision Res. 1999 Nov;39(22):3728-36. doi: 10.1016/s0042-6989(99)00072-3.


Scotopic contrast sensitivity functions (CSFs) were measured for 50 observers between the ages of 20 and 88 years. Using a maximum-likelihood, 2-alternative, temporal forced-choice threshold-estimation algorithm, scotopic CSFs were measured at 7 spatial frequencies ranging from 0.2 to 3.0 cpd, with mean retinal illuminance equated for observers at -0.85 log scotopic Trolands. For each stimulus condition, eight cycles of a horizontal sinusoidal grating were presented within +/- 1 S.D. of a 2-D Gaussian-spatial envelope and within a 1-s Gaussian-temporal envelope. Stimuli were centered on the nasal retina along the horizontal meridian 6 degrees from the fovea. Scotopic CSFs were found to be low-pass. Statistically significant age-related declines in contrast sensitivities were found for spatial frequencies at or below 1.2 cpd. There was also a statistically significant decrease in the high frequency cut-off with age (P < 0.01). An explanation of these results in terms of optical factors is rejected, while the results are consistent with age-related changes in the magnocellular pathway.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Aging / physiology*
  • Contrast Sensitivity / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Middle Aged
  • Photic Stimulation
  • Sensory Thresholds / physiology