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Acta Ophthalmol. 2013 Jun;91(4):312-7. doi: 10.1111/j.1755-3768.2011.02379.x. Epub 2012 Mar 16.

Age-related change in contrast sensitivity among Australian male adults: Florey Adult Male Ageing Study.

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South Australian Institute of Ophthalmology, Adelaide, Australia.



To describe the age-related change in contrast sensitivity seen in 35- to 80-year-old men in an Australian population.


The Florey Adelaide Male Ageing Study (FAMAS) is a prospective population-based study of men aged 35-80 years randomly selected from the north-west suburbs of Adelaide. We conducted a nested ophthalmic substudy of these men. Contrast sensitivity (CS) was measured at four spatial frequencies (3, 6, 12 and 18 cycles/degree [cpd]) using the Vectorvision CSV-1000 contrast sensitivity test chart (Vectorvision, Dayton, OH, USA), and results were statistically analysed relative to age and cataract type.


There were 2650 eligible subjects in the FAMAS and 1195 participated (45.1%); 472 of those participated in the ophthalmic substudy. A statistically significant decrease in contrast sensitivity was seen with advancing age at each spatial frequency tested [Generalized estimating equations (GEE) multiple linear regression: p ≤ 0.01]. The decline with age was greatest in the highest spatial frequency (18 cpd) and least in the lowest spatial frequency (3 cpd). Posterior subcapsular cataract caused the greatest reduction in contrast sensitivity at all spatial frequencies, while nuclear cataract caused significant reduction only in the intermediate (12 cpd) and high (18 cpd) spatial frequencies. Cortical cataract failed to reach statistical significance in contrast sensitivity reduction at all spatial frequencies tested.


Contrast sensitivity declines with age in all spatial frequencies tested with a greater decline occurring in the higher spatial frequencies. Age and cataracts are independently associated with contrast sensitivity decline, and posterior subcapsular cataracts caused the greatest reduction at all spatial frequencies.

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