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Flicker Sensitivity in Normal Aging-Monocular Tests of Retinal Function at Photopic and Mesopic Light Levels

Bi, W., Gillespie-Gallery, H., Binns, A. M. & Barbur, J. L. (2016). Flicker Sensitivity in Normal Aging-Monocular Tests of Retinal Function at Photopic and Mesopic Light Levels. Investigative Ophthalmology & Visual Science, 57(2), pp. 387-395. doi: 10.1167/iovs.15-16481


Purpose: Aging can affect many aspects of visual performance. In general, the effects become more significant in those older than 40 to 50 years, with increased intersubject variability and stronger dependence on ambient illumination. This study aimed to establish how healthy aging of the retina affects the detection of 15-Hz flicker under photopic and mesopic lighting.

Methods: We investigated 71 participants aged 20 to 75 years. Thresholds were measured for detection of 15-Hz flicker at the fovea (0°) and at an eccentricity of 4° in each of the four quadrants. The background luminance ranged from 0.6 to 60 cd/m2 and pupil size was measured continuously. Participants were excluded if they had signs/history of ocular disease, substantial interocular differences in flicker thresholds, or were unable to detect 100% flicker modulation in the high mesopic range.

Results: Mesopic and photopic flicker thresholds were used to calculate an index, the health of the retina index, to determine the limits of flicker sensitivity in healthy aging. Log flicker thresholds changed bilinearly with age; they remained stable until 40 to 50 years, with a linear decline with increasing age. This bilinear pattern of the change in flicker thresholds with age is consistent across photopic and mesopic light levels.

Conclusions: The health of the retina index captures the lowest threshold, usually obtained under photopic conditions, as well as the loss of flicker sensitivity with decreasing light level. The established limits of healthy aging may benefit from future studies in patients with ocular hypertension and/or glaucoma that are known to experience loss of flicker sensitivity.

Publication Type: Article
Publisher Keywords: aging, flicker, mesopic, monocular vision, photopic
Subjects: R Medicine > RE Ophthalmology
Departments: School of Health & Psychological Sciences > Optometry & Visual Sciences
Text - Published Version
Available under License Creative Commons Attribution Non-commercial No Derivatives.

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