The Nagel anomaloscope: its calibration and recommendations for diagnosis and research

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Abstract

Background

The Nagel anomaloscope Model I is the definitive clinical instrument for classifying phenotypic variations in X-linked color-vision disorders. Its system of classification is based on the Rayleigh equation: the relative amounts of red and green primary lights required to match a yellow primary. Our aim was to characterize how changes in mains voltage and ambient temperature influence the wavelength and intensity of each primary and alter the Rayleigh matches of normal and anomalous trichromats.

Methods

A Nagel Model I anomaloscope was calibrated in wavelength and intensity while varying the temperature of its prism housing and the mains voltage. Three normal, three protanomalous and three deuteranomalous trichromats made Rayleigh matches at various temperatures and voltages.

Results

The intensities of the green and red primaries show an exponential growth with mains voltage. Additionally, the wavelengths and intensities of all three primaries change with prism housing temperature. As a result, the R-G match midpoints of normal and anomalous trichromats shift with increasing mains voltage, and more markedly with increasing prism housing temperature, to higher R-G settings.

Conclusions

Rayleigh matches obtained with the Nagel I anomaloscope are sensitive to changes in voltage supply and prism housing temperature, arising largely from thermal effects of the internal light sources. However, the instrument may still be safely used for diagnostic and research purposes provided that: (1) a stable voltage supply is used; (2) it is kept at a constant temperature; and (3) the match midpoint of the reference population has been established under identical conditions.