Monocular chromatic contrast threshold and achromatic contrast sensitivity in children born prematurely

Am J Ophthalmol. 2003 Oct;136(4):710-9. doi: 10.1016/s0002-9394(03)00422-7.


Purpose: To study the effect of prematurity on monocular chromatic contrast thresholds (CCT) and achromatic contrast sensitivity (ACS).

Design: Case-control study.

Methods: A prospective study of 59 children born at less than 33 weeks' gestation was undertaken. Subjects were identified during routine neonatal screening for retinopathy of prematurity and recalled for testing at age 7 to 13 years. Five had stage 1 retinopathy of prematurity, seven had stage 2, and three had stage 3. Sixty-eight full-term children were recruited as controls. Those with major cerebral or eye disease were excluded. The CCT and ACS were measured monocularly in the eye with better visual acuity using static, computer-generated, sinusoidal gratings, displayed on a high-resolution monitor. The CCT and ACS were determined using a randomized double-staircase reversal algorithm. The ACS was measured at five spatial frequencies (0.22, 0.44, 0.88, 1.75, and 3.50 cycles/degree), and the CCT was measured along red-green and tritan confusion axes.

Results: Red-green (P =.326) and tritan (P =.910) contrast thresholds and ACS (P >.394 for all spatial frequencies) were similar to the control group.

Conclusions: Previous research suggests that prematurity adversely affects color vision and ACS. This study used a computerized psychophysical test that minimized the test errors inherent in many previous studies. Unexpectedly, CCT and ACS were found to be similar to full-term children.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Child
  • Color Perception / physiology*
  • Contrast Sensitivity / physiology*
  • Female
  • Gestational Age
  • Humans
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Infant, Premature / physiology*
  • Male
  • Prospective Studies
  • Psychophysics
  • Sensory Thresholds / physiology
  • Visual Acuity