Orientational contrast sensitivity and chromatic contrast thresholds in multiple sclerosis

Am J Ophthalmol. 2004 Feb;137(2):283-6. doi: 10.1016/j.ajo.2003.08.032.


Purpose: To investigate abnormalities of orientational contrast sensitivity (CS) and chromatic contrast threshold (CCT) in multiple sclerosis (MS).

Design: Case control study.

Methods: Nine subjects (mean age, 42 +/- 11 years; range, 20-62 years) with MS, an expanded disability status scale of 3 or less, and normal visual acuity (VA) (logarithm of the minimum angle of resolution [logMAR] VA less than.1) in the tested eye were age-matched with 20 controls. Achromatic CS and CCT were measured using static, computer-generated sinusoidal gratings displayed on a high-resolution monitor. The CS and CCT of each subject were determined using a randomized double-staircase reversal algorithm; CS was measured at five spatial frequencies with horizontal orientation and three with vertical orientation; CCT was measured along the red-green and tritan confusion axes. The sensitivity thresholds of subjects were examined in relation to the mean sensitivity of controls for each spatial frequency.

Results: Two subjects had loss of horizontal and vertical CS, and three had isolated vertical loss. When compared with the control mean, there were significant reductions in red-green (P =.016) and tritan (P =.016) discrimination thresholds.

Conclusion: This study used a computerized psychophysical test designed to minimize many of the test errors associated with earlier studies. It provides confirmatory evidence that MS may be associated with a loss of orientational CS and color vision, in the absence of reduced VA.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Algorithms
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Color Vision Defects / physiopathology*
  • Contrast Sensitivity / physiology*
  • Diagnostic Techniques, Ophthalmological
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Multiple Sclerosis / physiopathology*
  • Psychophysics
  • Random Allocation
  • Sensory Thresholds / physiology
  • Visual Acuity / physiology