OSA's Digital Library

Journal of the Optical Society of America A

Journal of the Optical Society of America A


  • Editor: Franco Gori
  • Vol. 29, Iss. 2 — Feb. 1, 2012
  • pp: A27–A35

Changes in color vision with decreasing light level: separating the effects of normal aging from disease

John L. Barbur and Evgenia Konstantakopoulou  »View Author Affiliations

JOSA A, Vol. 29, Issue 2, pp. A27-A35 (2012)

View Full Text Article

Enhanced HTML    Acrobat PDF (726 KB)

Browse Journals / Lookup Meetings

Browse by Journal and Year


Lookup Conference Papers

Close Browse Journals / Lookup Meetings

Article Tools



The purpose of this study was to obtain additional information about the health of the retina (HR) by measuring the rate of loss of chromatic sensitivity with decreasing light level. The HRindex is introduced to separate the effects of normal aging from early stage disease. For normal subjects the HRindex is largely independent of age (r20.1), but 11% of clinically normal, asymptomatic, older subjects exhibit values below the 2σ limit. The HRindex provides a single number that captures how light level affects chromatic sensitivity irrespective of age and can be used to screen for preclinical signs of retinal disease.

© 2012 Optical Society of America

OCIS Codes
(330.1720) Vision, color, and visual optics : Color vision
(330.7323) Vision, color, and visual optics : Visual optics, aging changes

ToC Category:
Mesopic and peripheral color vision

Original Manuscript: September 1, 2011
Revised Manuscript: October 23, 2011
Manuscript Accepted: October 30, 2011
Published: January 6, 2012

Virtual Issues
Vol. 7, Iss. 4 Virtual Journal for Biomedical Optics

John L. Barbur and Evgenia Konstantakopoulou, "Changes in color vision with decreasing light level: separating the effects of normal aging from disease," J. Opt. Soc. Am. A 29, A27-A35 (2012)

Sort:  Author  |  Year  |  Journal  |  Reset  


  1. C. Owsley, G. McGwin, K. Scilley, and K. Kallies, “Development of a questionnaire to assess vision problems under low luminance in age-related maculopathy,” Invest. Ophthalmol. Vis. Sci. 47, 528–535 (2006). [CrossRef]
  2. R. A. Weale, “Senile ocular changes, cell death, and vision,” in Aging and Human Visual Function, R. Sekuler, D. Kline, and K. Dismukes, eds. (Liss, 1982), pp. 161–171.
  3. C. Owsley and G. McGwin, “Vision and driving,” Vision Res. 50, 2348–2361 (2010). [CrossRef]
  4. A. Petzold and G. T. Plant, “Clinical disorders affecting mesopic vision,” Ophthalmic Physiol. Opt. 26, 326–341 (2006). [CrossRef]
  5. D. M. Connolly and J. L. Barbur, “Low contrast acuity at photopic and mesopic luminance under mild hypoxia, normoxia, and hyperoxia,” Aviat. Space Environ. Med. 80, 933–940 (2009).
  6. D. M. Connolly, J. L. Barbur, S. L. Hosking, and I. R. Moorhead, “Mild hypoxia impairs chromatic sensitivity in the mesopic range,” Invest Ophthalmol. Vis. Sci. 49, 820–827 (2008). [CrossRef]
  7. B. Feigl, D. Cao, C. P. Morris, and A. J. Zele, “Persons with age-related maculopathy risk genotypes and clinically normal eyes have reduced mesopic vision,” Invest. Ophthalmol. Vis. Sci. 52, 1145–1150 (2011). [CrossRef]
  8. I. E. Loewenfeld, “Pupillary changes related to age,” in Topics in Neuro-ophthalmology, H. S. Thompson, R. Daroff, L. Frisén, J. S. Glaser, and M. D. Sanders, eds. (Williams and Wilkins, 1972), pp. 124–150.
  9. I. E. Loewenfeld, The Pupil: Anatomy, Physiology, and Clinical Applications (Butterworth and Heinemann, 1999).
  10. F. S. Said and W. S. Sawires, “Age dependence of changes in pupil diameter in the dark,” Opt. Acta 19, 359–361 (1972). [CrossRef]
  11. J. Pokorny, V. C. Smith, and M. Lutze, “Aging of the human lens,” Appl. Opt. 26, 1437–1440 (1987). [CrossRef]
  12. P. A. Sample, F. D. Esterson, R. N. Weinreb, and R. M. Boynton, “The aging lens: in vivo assessment of light absorption in 84 human eyes,” Invest Ophthalmol. Vis. Sci. 29, 1306–1311 (1988).
  13. P. Artal, A. Guirao, E. Berrio, P. Piers, and S. Norrby, “Optical aberrations and the aging eye,” Int. Ophthalmol. Clinics 43, 63–77 (2003). [CrossRef]
  14. C. A. Curcio, C. L. Millican, K. A. Allen, and R. E. Kalina, “Aging of the human photoreceptor mosaic: evidence for selective vulnerability of rods in central retina,” Invest. Ophthalmol. Vis. Sci. 34, 3278–3296 (1993).
  15. S. L. Elliott and J. S. Werner, “Age-related changes in contrast gain related to the M and P pathways,” J. Vis. 10, 4(2010). [CrossRef]
  16. S. L. Elliott, S. S. Choi, N. Doble, J. L. Hardy, J. W. Evans, and J. S. Werner, “Role of high-order aberrations in senescent changes in spatial vision,” J. Vis. 9, 24(2009). [CrossRef]
  17. C. E. Wright and N. Drasdo, “The influence of age on the spatial and temporal contrast sensitivity function,” Doc. Ophthalmol. 59, 385–395 (1985). [CrossRef]
  18. M. Rodriguez-Carmona, “Variability of chromatic sensitivity: fundamental studies and clinical applications,” Ph.D. dissertation (City University London, 2006).
  19. J. L. Barbur, M. Rodriguez-Carmona, and A. J. Harlow, “Establishing the statistical limits of “normal” chromatic sensitivity,” publication CIE x030:2006 (Commission Internationale de l’Eclairage, 2006).
  20. J. L. Barbur and D. M. Connolly, “Effects of hypoxia on colour vision with emphasis on the mesopic range,” Expert Rev. Ophthalmol. 6, 409–420(2011).
  21. K. Shinomori, B. E. Schefrin, and J. S. Werner, “Age-related changes in wavelength discrimination,” J. Opt. Soc. Am. A 18, 310–318 (2001). [CrossRef]
  22. G. Haegerstrom-Portnoy, “Short-wavelength-sensitive-cone sensitivity loss with aging: a protective role for macular pigment?,” J. Opt. Soc. Am. A 5, 2140–2144 (1988). [CrossRef]
  23. K. Knoblauch, F. Vital-Durand, and J. L. Barbur, “Variation of chromatic sensitivity across the life span,” Vision Res. 41, 23–36 (2001). [CrossRef]
  24. G. Verriest, J. v. Laethem, and A. Uvijls, “A new assessment of the normal ranges of the Farnsworth-Munsell 100-hue test scores,” Am. J. Ophthalmol. 93, 635–642 (1982).
  25. B. E. Schefrin, K. Shinomori, and J. S. Werner, “Contributions of neural pathways to age-related losses in chromatic discrimination,” J. Opt. Soc. Am. A 12, 1233–1241 (1995). [CrossRef]
  26. M. O’Neill-Biba, S. Sivaprasad, M. Rodriguez-Carmona, J. E. Wolf, and J. L. Barbur, “Loss of chromatic sensitivity in AMD and diabetes: a comparative study,” Ophthalmic Physiol. Opt. 30, 705–716 (2010). [CrossRef]
  27. M. Rodriguez-Carmona, J. Kvansakul, J. A. Harlow, W. Kopcke, W. Schalch, and J. L. Barbur, “The effects of supplementation with lutein and/or zeaxanthin on human macular pigment density and colour vision,” Ophthalmic Physiol. Opt. 26, 137–147 (2006). [CrossRef]
  28. P. K. Ahnelt, H. Kolb, and R. Pflug, “Identification of a subtype of cone photoreceptor, likely to be blue sensitive, in the human retina,” J. Comp. Neurol. 255, 18–34 (1987). [CrossRef]
  29. E. Alexandridis, J. A. Leendertz, and J. L. Barbur, “Methods of studying the behaviour of the pupil,” J. Psychophysiol. 5, 223–239 (1992).
  30. J. L. Barbur and W. D. Thomson, “Pupil response as an objective measure of visual acuity,” Ophthalmic Physiol. Opt. 7, 425–429 (1987). [CrossRef]
  31. J. L. Barbur, E. Konstantakopoulou, M. Rodriguez-Carmona, J. A. Harlow, A. G. Robson, and J. D. Moreland, “The Macular Assessment Profile test—a new VDU-based technique for measuring the spatial distribution of the macular pigment, lens density and rapid flicker sensitivity,” Ophthalmic Physiol. Opt. 30, 470–483 (2010). [CrossRef]
  32. T. T. Berendschot and D. van Norren, “Macular pigment shows ringlike structures,” Invest. Ophthalmol. Vis. Sci. 47, 709–714 (2006). [CrossRef]
  33. D. M. Snodderly, J. A. Mares, B. R. Wooten, L. Oxton, M. Gruber, and T. Ficek, “Macular pigment measurement by heterochromatic flicker photometry in older subjects: the carotenoids and age-related eye disease study,” Invest. Ophthalmol. Vis. Sci. 45, 531–538 (2004). [CrossRef]
  34. W. S. Stiles and B. H. Crawford, “The luminous efficiency of rays entering the eye pupil at different points,” Proc. R. Soc. London B 112, 428–450 (1933). [CrossRef]
  35. G. Westheimer, “Directional sensitivity of the retina: 75 years of Stiles-Crawford effect,” Proc. R. Soc. B Biol. Sci. 275, 2777–2786 (2008).
  36. G. Westheimer, “Dependence of the magnitude of the Stiles-Crawford effect on retinal location,” J. Physiol. 192, 309–315 (1967).
  37. R. A. Applegate and V. Lakshminarayanan, “Parametric representation of Stiles-Crawford functions: normal variation of peak location and directionality,” J. Opt. Soc. Am. A 10, 1611–1623 (1993). [CrossRef]
  38. J. L. Barbur, M. L. Rodriguez-Carmona, S. Evans, and N. Milburn, “Minimum colour vision requirements for professional flight crew. Recommendations for new colour vision standards,” Paper 04/2009 (Civil Aviation Authority, UK, 2009), http://www.caa.co.uk/caapaper200904 .
  39. M. Rodriguez-Carmona and J. L. Barbur, “Assessing the severity of color vision loss with implications for aviation and other occupational environments,” Aviat. Space Environ. Med. 83, 19–29 (2011).
  40. J. L. Barbur and A. Stockman, “Photopic, mesopic and scotopic vision and changes in visual performance,” in Encyclopedia of the Eye, D. Dartt, J. C. Besharse, and R. Dana, eds. (Elsevier, 2010), pp. 323–331.
  41. D. W. Kline, T. J. Kline, J. L. Fozard, W. Kosnik, F. Schieber, and R. Sekuler, “Vision, aging, and driving: the problems of older drivers,” J. Gerontol. 47, 27–34 (1992).
  42. H. C. Walkey, J. L. Barbur, A. Harlow, and W. Makous, “Measurements of chromatic sensitivity in the mesopic range,” Color Res. Appl. 26, S36–S42 (2001). [CrossRef]
  43. K. Knoblauch, F. Saunders, M. Kusuda, R. Hynes, M. Podgor, K. E. Higgens, and M. deMosasterio, “Age and illuminance effects in the Farnsworth-Munsell 100-hue test,” Appl. Opt. 26, 1441–1448 (1987). [CrossRef]
  44. E. H. Bárány, “A theory of binocular visual acuity and an analysis of the variability of visual acuity,” Acta Ophthalmol. 27, 63–92 (1946).
  45. C. Owsley, “Aging and vision,” Vision Res. 51, 1610–1622 (2011). [CrossRef]
  46. V. C. Smith, J. T. Ernest, and J. Pokorny, “Effect of hypoxia on FM100-Hue test performance,” Mod. Probl. Ophthalmol. 17, 248–256 (1975).
  47. D. M. Connolly, “Oxygenation state and twilight vision at 2438 m,” Aviat. Space Environ. Med. 82, 2–8 (2011).

Cited By

Alert me when this paper is cited

OSA is able to provide readers links to articles that cite this paper by participating in CrossRef's Cited-By Linking service. CrossRef includes content from more than 3000 publishers and societies. In addition to listing OSA journal articles that cite this paper, citing articles from other participating publishers will also be listed.

« Previous Article  |  Next Article »

OSA is a member of CrossRef.

CrossCheck Deposited