Trolands are a widely used measure of retinal illuminance in vision science and visual optics, but disagreements exist for the definition and interpretation of this photometric unit. The purpose of this communication is to resolve the confusion by providing a sound conceptual basis for interpreting trolands as a measure of angular flux density incident upon the retina. Using a simplified optical analysis, we show that the troland value of an extended source is the intensity in micro-candelas of an equivalent point source located at the eye’s posterior nodal point that produces the same illuminance in the retinal image as does the extended source. This optical interpretation of trolands reveals that total light flux in the image of an extended object is the product of the troland value of the source and the solid angle subtended by the source at the first nodal point, independent of eye size.
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