Letter contrast sensitivity changes in early diabetic retinopathy

Clin Exp Optom. 2003 May;86(3):152-6. doi: 10.1111/j.1444-0938.2003.tb03097.x.


Purpose: To investigate the discriminative ability of letter contrast sensitivity (CS) and visual acuity (VA) in detecting functional losses in participants with type 2 diabetes.

Methods: LogMAR VA and letter CS were measured on 20 type 2 diabetic and 24 age-matched control participants. The diabetic participants were sub-grouped according to the level of retinopathy present.

Results: Letter CS was able to distinguish those participants with and without macular oedema and those with no or minimal diabetic retinopathy from the control group, whereas VA was not.

Conclusion: Letter CS may be used as an effective screening tool to assess damage to the visual pathway of diabetic participants both with and without clinically detectable signs.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Blood Glucose / analysis
  • Contrast Sensitivity / physiology*
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2 / physiopathology
  • Diabetic Retinopathy / physiopathology*
  • Humans
  • Macular Edema / physiopathology
  • Middle Aged
  • Vision Tests
  • Visual Acuity / physiology*


  • Blood Glucose