Senescent changes in scotopic contrast sensitivity

Brooke E. Schefrin, Stephen J. Tregear, Lewis O. Harvey, John S Werner

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

86 Scopus citations


Scotopic contrast sensitivity functions (CSFs) were measured for 50 observers between the ages of 20 and 88 years. Using a maximum-likelihood, 2-alternative, temporal forced-choice threshold-estimation algorithm, scotopic CSFs were measured at 7 spatial frequencies ranging from 0.2 to 3.0 cpd, with mean retinal illuminance equated for observers at -0.85 log scotopic Trolands. For each stimulus condition, eight cycles of a horizontal sinusoidal grating were presented within ±1 S.D. of a 2-D Gaussian-spatial envelope and within a 1-s Gaussian-temporal envelope. Stimuli were centered on the nasal retina along the horizontal meridian 6°from the fovea. Scotopic CSFs were found to be low-pass. Statistically significant age-related declines in contrast sensitivities were found for spatial frequencies at or below 1.2 cpd. There was also a statistically significant decrease in the high frequency cut-off with age (P<0.01). An explanation of these results in terms of optical factors is rejected, while the results are consistent with age-related changes in the magnocellular pathway. Copyright (C) 1999 Elsevier Science Ltd.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)3728-3736
Number of pages9
JournalVision Research
Issue number22
StatePublished - Nov 1999
Externally publishedYes


  • Aging
  • Contrast sensitivity function
  • Scotopic contrast sensitivity
  • Scotopic vision

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ophthalmology
  • Sensory Systems


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