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Are Current Methods of Measuring Dark Adaptation Effective in Detecting the Onset and Progression of Age-Related Macular Degeneration? A Systematic Literature Review

Higgins, B. E., Taylor, D. J. ORCID: 0000-0001-8261-5225, Binns, A. M. ORCID: 0000-0001-8621-498X & Crabb, D. P. ORCID: 0000-0001-8754-3902 (2021). Are Current Methods of Measuring Dark Adaptation Effective in Detecting the Onset and Progression of Age-Related Macular Degeneration? A Systematic Literature Review. Ophthalmology and Therapy, 10(1), pp. 21-38. doi: 10.1007/s40123-020-00323-0


Dark adaptation (DA) has been proposed as a possible functional biomarker for age-related macular degeneration (AMD). In this systematic review we aim to evaluate current methodology used to assess DA in people with AMD, the evidence of precision in detecting the onset and progression of AMD, and the relationship between DA and other functional and structural measures.

MEDLINE, EMBASE, CINAHL, AMED, PsycINFO, PsycARTICLES were searched for studies published between January 2006 and January 2020 that assessed DA in people with AMD. Details of eligible studies including study design, characteristics of study population and outcomes were recorded. All included studies underwent quality appraisal using approved critical appraisal tools. This systematic review follows PRISMA guidelines (PROSPERO registration number: CRD42019129486).

Forty-eight studies were eligible for inclusion, reporting a variety of instruments and protocols to assess different DA parameters. Twenty of these studies used the AdaptDx (MacuLogix, Hummelstown, PA, USA) instrument and assessed rod-intercept time (RIT). Most of these reported that RIT was delayed in people with AMD and this delay worsened with AMD severity. Four studies, involving 533 participants, reported estimates of diagnostic performance of AdaptDx to separate people with AMD from visually healthy controls. DA has been compared to other measures of visual function, patient-reported outcome measures (PROMs) and structural measures. Ten studies specifically considered evidence that the presence of certain structural abnormalities was associated with impaired DA in AMD.

This systematic review indicates overwhelming evidence of reasonable quality for an association between impaired DA and AMD. Data on the repeatability and reproducibility of DA measurement are sparse. There is evidence that structural abnormalities such as reticular drusen are associated with prolongation of DA time. Fewer studies have explored an association between DA and other measures of visual function or PROMs. We found no studies that had compared DA with performance-based measures.

Publication Type: Article
Additional Information: This article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License, which permits any non-commercial use, sharing, adaptation, distribution and reproduction in any medium or format, as long as you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons licence, and indicate if changes were made. The images or other third party material in this article are included in the article’s Creative Commons licence, unless indicated otherwise in a credit 34 Ophthalmol Ther (2021) 10:21–38line to the material. If material is not included in the article’s Creative Commons licence and your intended use is not permitted by statutory regulation or exceeds the permitted use, you will need to obtain permission directly from the copyright holder. To view a copy of this licence, visit
Publisher Keywords: AdaptDx; Age-related macular degeneration; AMD; Dark adaptation; Dark adaptometer; Rod-intercept time; Systematic literature review
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.

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