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Understanding disability glare: light scatter and retinal illuminance as predictors of sensitivity to contrast

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Abstract

The presence of a bright light in the visual field has two main effects on the retinal image: reduced contrast and increased retinal illuminance because of scattered light; the latter can, under some conditions, lead to an improvement in retinal sensitivity. The combined effect remains poorly understood, particularly at low light levels. A psychophysical flicker-cancellation test was used to measure the amount and angular distribution of scattered light in the eye for 40 observers. Contrast thresholds were measured using a functional contrast sensitivity test. Pupil-plane glare-source illuminances (i.e., 0, 1.35, and 19.21lm/m2), eccentricities (5°, 10°, and 15°), and background luminances (1, 2.6, and 26cd/m2) were investigated. Visual performance was better than predicted, based on a loss of retinal image contrast caused by scattered light, particularly in the mesopic range. Prediction accuracy improved significantly when the expected increase in retinal sensitivity in the presence of scattered light was also incorporated in the model.

© 2015 Optical Society of America

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