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Spatial contrast sensitivity: effects of age, test–retest, and psychophysical method

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Abstract

Spatial contrast sensitivity was tested twice in normal subjects from five age groups by using each of two different psychophysical methods. Results obtained by the method of adjustment showed a decline in sensitivity with increasing age at all spatial frequencies. In contrast, the forced-choice procedure yielded results indicating an age-related decline predominantly at high spatial frequencies, with the magnitude of the decline being generally similar to that obtained earlier by a tracking method [ Vision Res. 23, 689 ( 1983)]. The decline that we observed cannot be due to pupillary changes with age, since this factor was controlled. Moreover, we suggest that the high-spatial-frequency decline in contrast sensitivity, although it is comparatively small, is too large to be due to changes in lens density. We therefore suggest that a neural component is responsible. In addition, interactions among the age of the subject, the spatial frequency used, and the psychophysical method used suggest that the method of adjustment should be avoided for age-related studies of vision.

© 1988 Optical Society of America

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