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Measurement of cone dark adaptation: a comparison of four psychophysical methods

Gaffney, A. J., Binns, A. M. & Margrain, T. H. (2014). Measurement of cone dark adaptation: a comparison of four psychophysical methods. Documenta Ophthalmologica, 128(1), pp. 33-41. doi: 10.1007/s10633-013-9418-6


Purpose: Dark adaptometry is an important clinical tool for the diagnosis of a range of conditions, including age-related macular degeneration (AMD). In order to identify the most robust, clinically applicable technique for the measurement of cone dark adaptation, the repeatability and agreement of four psychophysical methods were assessed.

Methods: Data were obtained from 31 healthy adults on two occasions, using four psychophysical methods. Participants’ pupils were dilated and 96% of cone photopigment was bleached before threshold was monitored in the dark using one of the techniques, selected at random. This procedure was repeated for each of the remaining methods.

An exponential recovery function was fitted to all threshold recovery data. The co-efficient of repeatability (CoR) was calculated to assess the repeatability of the methods and a repeated measures analysis of variance (ANOVA) was used to compare mean recovery parameters.

Results: All four methods demonstrated a similar level of inter-session repeatability for measurement of cone recovery, yielding CoRs between 1.18 and 1.56 minutes. There were no statistically significant differences in estimates of mean time constant of cone recovery (cone τ) between the four methods (p = 0.488), however significant differences initial and final cone thresholds were reported (p < 0.005).

Conclusions: All of the techniques were capable of monitoring the rapid changes in visual threshold that occur during cone dark adaptation and the repeatability of the techniques was similar. This indicates that, despite the respective advantages and disadvantages of these psychophysical techniques, all four methods would be suitable for measuring cone dark adaptation in clinical practice.

Publication Type: Article
Additional Information: The final publication is available at Springer via
Publisher Keywords: cone dark adaptation; repeatability; psychophysics
Subjects: R Medicine > RE Ophthalmology
Departments: School of Health & Psychological Sciences > Optometry & Visual Sciences
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