Psychophysical evidence for rod vulnerability in age-related macular degeneration

Academic Article


  • PURPOSE. To determine whether there is rod system dysfunction in the central retina of patients with age-related macular degeneration (AMD). METHODS. Dark-adapted sensitivity (500-nm stimulus) and light-adapted sensitivity (600 nm) were measured psychophysically at 52 loci in the central 38° (diameter) of retina in 80 patients with AMD, and results were compared with those from older adult normal controls. All dark-adapted data were corrected for preretinal absorption. RESULTS. Mean field dark-adapted sensitivity was significantly lower in AMD patients as a group than in normal subjects. Within the AMD group were subsets of patients with normal mean dark- and light-adapted sensitivities; reduced dark-adapted sensitivities without detectable light-adapted losses; both types of losses; and, least commonly, only light-adapted losses. Regional retinal analyses of the dark- adapted deficit indicated the greatest severity was 2°to 4°or approximately 1 mm from the fovea, and the deficit decreased with increasing eccentricity. CONCLUSIONS. These psychophysical results are consistent with histopathologic findings of a selective vulnerability for parafoveal rod photoreceptors in AMD. The different patterns of rod and cone system losses among patients at similar clinical stages reinforces the notion that AMD is a group of disorders with underlying heterogeneity of mechanism of visual loss. Dark-adapted macula-wide testing may be a useful complement to the more traditional outcome measures of fundus pathology, and foveal cone-based psychophysics in future AMD trials.
  • Author List

  • Owsley C; Jackson GR; Cideciyan AV; Huang Y; Fine SL; Ho AC; Maguire MG; Lolley V; Jacobson SG
  • Start Page

  • 267
  • End Page

  • 273
  • Volume

  • 41
  • Issue

  • 1