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Invest Ophthalmol Vis Sci. 1996 Dec;37(13):2771-4.

Cone-specific measures of human color vision.

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Visual Sciences Branch, Aircrew Health and Performance Division, US Army Aeromedical Research Laboratory, Fort Rucker, Alabama 36362-0577, USA.



To describe a new test of color vision (cone-specific contrast sensitivity) and to evaluate its sensitivity in comparison to standard clinical tests.


Cone-specific colored letter charts were generated by computer and displayed on a color monitor. Each chart consists of colored letters that are most visible at the top but that gradually fade into a gray background. Cone contrast varies systematically on each chart so that letters are visible to only one cone type (L, M, or S cone). Cone-specific letter contrast sensitivity was measured in 30 color normals and 13 subjects with hereditary color deficiency. Values were compared to standard measures of color vision.


In color normals, mean log contrast sensitivity was approximately the same on L-cone (1.84 +/- 0.08 log contrast sensitivity) and M-cone (1.87 +/- 0.08) tests but was reduced on the S-cone test (0.89 +/- 0.15) because of the fewer number of S-cones in the human retina. Subjects with red color deficiency showed significantly reduced contrast sensitivity on the L-cone test but normal performance on M- and S-cone tests. Subjects with green color deficiency showed decreased contrast sensitivity limited to the M-cone test. When standardized relative to variability, cone contrast sensitivity identified color deficiency unequivocally in all subjects, whereas FM 100 hue error scores detected 9 of 13 subjects with color deficiency.


Cone-specific contrast sensitivity provides a quantitative measure of normal color vision and indicates both type and severity of color deficiency. It is useful for diagnosing hereditary color deficiency and for monitoring early color vision loss in ocular and systemic disease.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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