An evaluation of the Mars Letter Contrast Sensitivity Test

Optom Vis Sci. 2005 Nov;82(11):970-5. doi: 10.1097/01.opx.0000187844.27025.ea.


Purpose: The Mars Letter Contrast Sensitivity Test (initially known as the Lighthouse Letter Contrast Sensitivity Test) is similar in design to the Pelli-Robson Test but may offer several advantages. This study evaluates the repeatability of the Mars test and its agreement with the Pelli-Robson test in normal and low-vision subjects.

Methods: Fifty-four subjects were tested (age 22-86 years), including 20 normally sighted young adults, 17 normally sighted older adults, and 17 adults with low vision (20/16 to 20/250). Subjects were tested with both contrast sensitivity tests and with the ETDRS visual acuity chart. After a short break, subjects were retested with an alternate form of each contrast sensitivity test. The chart forms used (two Pelli-Robson and three Mars) and the order of testing were varied systematically. Testing was monocular with habitual correction and, for subjects over 40 years of age, included appropriate near add. Letter-by-letter scoring was used for both tests. Repeatability and agreement were assessed by determining the 95% limits of agreement (LoA): +/- 1.96 standard deviations of the differences between administrations or tests.

Results: The Mars test showed excellent agreement with the Pelli-Robson test, with 95% LoA of +/- 0.21 log units for all subjects. The Mars test was similarly repeatable (95% LoA = +/-0.20 log units) to the Pelli-Robson test (95% LoA = +/-0.20 log units) among all subjects.

Conclusion: The new Mars Letter Contrast Sensitivity Test shows excellent agreement with the Pelli-Robson test and has similar repeatability. There are subtle differences in the actual contrast levels on different forms of the Mars test, and adjusting for these differences leads to superior repeatability of the Mars test. Thus, the Mars test may be a useful alternative to the Pelli-Robson test offering several advantages, including smaller size, improved durability, and ease of use.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Contrast Sensitivity / physiology*
  • Equipment Design
  • Humans
  • Middle Aged
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Vision Tests / instrumentation*
  • Vision, Low / diagnosis
  • Vision, Low / physiopathology*