An Alternative Psychophysical Diagnostic Indicator of the Aging Eye. J Ophthalmol 2019;2019:2036192.Abstract.
Purpose: Impaired adaptation to changes in lighting levels as well as mesopic visual function is a common complaint in those over the age of 65. The use of photostress is a well-established method to test the adaption rate and the response of the visual cycle. In this study, we test visual function recovery to mesopic luminance stimuli following a long duration photostress in young and elderly subjects. If successful in strongly differentiating aging macular function, these methods may also be useful in the study of pathologies such as age-related macular degeneration. Methods: A group of 12 older normal subjects (mean age 75.1 ± 4.79) and a control group of 5 younger normal subjects (mean age 26.2 ± 4.19) were subjected to macular photostress using the OraLux photostress system. The OraLux system provides a diffuse light source bleaching 84% of cone photopigment while maintaining an exposure safety factor of 200 times less than the maximum safe exposure. After each photostressing session, macular recovery was tracked using a foveal, variable contrast, flickering stimulus of mean luminance in the high mesopic range. Recovery was tracked for 300 seconds. The endpoint was time to recovery to each individual's baseline sensitivity as determined by two static sensitivity trials prior to photostress. Results: Proportional hazards analysis of recovery time yielded a statistically significant difference between the older group and the young group (HR = 0.181; =0.0289). The estimated hazard ratio of 0.181 indicates that older subjects return to baseline at less than one-fifth the rate of younger subjects. The hazards ratio remained statistically significant after adjusting for visual acuity (HR = 0.093; =0.0424). Conclusion: Photostress recovery of flicker sensitivity under mesopic conditions is a strong differentiator of aging macular function. This agrees with subject-reported complaints in reduced luminance conditions after exposure to bright lights such as night driving. The qualitative similarity between the aging retina and changes in early AMD suggests that flicker recovery following photostress may be useful as a surrogate endpoint in AMD clinical trials.