Reducing Spatial Uncertainty Through Attentional Cueing Improves Contrast Sensitivity in Regions of the Visual Field With Glaucomatous Defects

Transl Vis Sci Technol. 2018 Mar 23;7(2):8. doi: 10.1167/tvst.7.2.8. eCollection 2018 Mar.


Purpose: Current clinical perimetric test paradigms present stimuli randomly to various locations across the visual field (VF), inherently introducing spatial uncertainty, which reduces contrast sensitivity. In the present study, we determined the extent to which spatial uncertainty affects contrast sensitivity in glaucoma patients by minimizing spatial uncertainty through attentional cueing.

Methods: Six patients with open-angle glaucoma and six healthy subjects underwent laboratory-based psychophysical testing to measure contrast sensitivity at preselected locations at two eccentricities (9.5° and 17.5°) with two stimulus sizes (Goldmann sizes III and V) under different cueing conditions: 1, 2, 4, or 8 points verbally cued. Method of Constant Stimuli and a single-interval forced-choice procedure were used to generate frequency of seeing (FOS) curves at locations with and without VF defects.

Results: At locations with VF defects, cueing minimizes spatial uncertainty and improves sensitivity under all conditions. The effect of cueing was maximal when one point was cued, and rapidly diminished when more points were cued (no change to baseline with 8 points cued). The slope of the FOS curve steepened with reduced spatial uncertainty. Locations with normal sensitivity in glaucomatous eyes had similar performance to that of healthy subjects. There was a systematic increase in uncertainty with the depth of VF loss.

Conclusions: Sensitivity measurements across the VF are negatively affected by spatial uncertainty, which increases with greater VF loss. Minimizing uncertainty can improve sensitivity at locations of deficit.

Translational relevance: Current perimetric techniques introduce spatial uncertainty and may therefore underestimate sensitivity in regions of VF loss.

Keywords: eccentricity; glaucoma; psychophysics; retina; standard automated perimetry.