Purpose: To study the influence of cataract on peripheral and central colour contrast sensitivity.
Methods: Peripheral and central colour contrast sensitivity was measured with a computer graphics system along the protan, deutan and tritan axes. Included were 30 patients with cataract divided into three sub-groups: cortical cataract, nuclear sclerosis and posterior subcapsular cataract. Colour contrast was measured before and after cataract operation.
Results: There were significant differences in peripheral colour contrast thresholds comparing the preoperative and postoperative results. This difference existed even in patients (n=19) with a pre-operative visual acuity > or = 0.5 (mean 0.6). The tritan axis was the one most affected by cataract. There was no significant difference between cataract sub-groups. Also, the central colour contrast sensitivity was affected by cataract. Again, the tritan axis was the most affected one. There was no significant difference between the cataract sub-groups. We also found large and significant differences in central colour contrast thresholds between normal subjects and postoperative values from the cataract group in all colour axes. The colour contrast sensitivity was poorer in pseudophakes than in normals. There was a difference between the three groups of different IOL material used (PMMA, acrylic and silicone). The difference was significant in the protan axis, the acrylic group having the best colour contrast sensitivity.
Conclusion: Peripheral colour contrast sensitivity was affected by cataract, even when only moderately developed. This finding is of importance and should be considered when the method is used to study other eye diseases e.g. glaucoma. Central colour contrast sensitivity was also affected by cataract. The pseudophakes were found to have poorer colour contrast sensitivity than normals. The material in the IOL seemed to be of importance for colour contrast.