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Invest Ophthalmol Vis Sci. 2008 Jan;49(1):55-65. doi: 10.1167/iovs.06-1048.

Measuring rod and cone dynamics in age-related maculopathy.

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  • 1Centre for Eye Research Australia, Department of Ophthalmology, The University of Melbourne, East Melbourne, Victoria, Australia.



A cathode-ray-tube (CRT) monitor-based technique was used to isolate clinically significant components of dark adaptation. The utility of the technique in identifying adaptation abnormalities in eyes with age-related maculopathy (ARM) is described.


A CRT dark adaptometer was developed to assess cone and rod recovery after photopigment bleach. The following measures were obtained: cone recovery rate (R(c); in decades per minute) and absolute threshold (Tf(c); log candelas per square meter), rod recovery rate (R(r); decades per minute), and rod-cone transition (rod-cone break [RCB], in minutes). These components were isolated by appropriately selecting stimulus size, stimulus location, pigment bleach, and test duration and by coupling the CRT with judiciously selected neutral-density (ND) filters. The protocol was developed by using 5 young observers and was tested on 27 subjects with ARM in the study eye and 22 age-matched control subjects.


The parameters necessary for effective isolation of cone and early phase rod dark adaptation were a 2.6 ND filter (for a standard CRT monitor, 0.08-80 cd . m(-2) luminance output); a 4 degrees foveated, 200-ms, achromatic spot; approximately 30% pigment bleaching; and a 30-minute test duration. These settings returned obvious rod and cone recovery curves in control and ARM eyes that were compatible with conventional test methods and identified 93% of participants with ARM as having delayed dynamics in at least one of the parameters. Cone recovery dynamics were significantly slower in the ARM group when compared with age-matched control subjects (R(c), 0.99 +/- 0.35 vs. 2.63 +/- 0.61 decades . min(-1), P < 0.0001). Three of the 27 eyes with ARM did not achieve RCB during the allowed duration (30 minutes). The remaining eyes with ARM (n = 24) exhibited a significant delay in rod recovery (R(r)(,) ARM, 0.16 +/- 0.03 vs. controls, 0.22 +/- 0.02 decades . min(-1), P < 0.0001) and the average time to RCB (+/-SD) in the ARM group was significantly longer than in the control subjects (19.12 +/- 5.17 minutes vs. 10.40 +/- 2.49 minutes, P < 0.0001).


The CRT dark-adaptation technique described in this article is an effective test for identifying abnormalities in cone and rod recovery. Slowed cone and rod recovery and a delayed RCB were evident in the eyes with ARM. The test method is potentially useful for clinical intervention trials in which ARM progression is monitored.

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