The retina drives various non-image-forming photoresponses, including circadian photoentrainment and pupil constriction. Previous investigators showed that in humans, photic suppression of the clock-controlled hormone melatonin is most sensitive to 460-nm blue light, with a threshold of ~12 log photons cm(-2) s(-1). This threshold is surprising because non-image-forming vision is mediated by intrinsically photosensitive retinal ganglion cells, which receive rod-driven synaptic input and can respond to light levels as low as ~7 log photons cm(-2) s(-1). Using a protocol that enhances data precision, we have found the threshold for human melatonin suppression to be ~10 log photons cm(-2) s(-1) at 460 nm. This finding has far-reaching implications since there is mounting evidence that nocturnal activation of the circadian system can be harmful.
Keywords: circadian photoentrainment; human; ipRGC; light; melatonin; pineal; retinal ganglion cell; threshold.
© 2015 The Author(s).