The effect of bleach duration and age on the ERG photostress test

  • Ashley Wood
  • Tom Margrain
  • Alison BinnsEmail author



The ERG photostress test assesses the recovery of the focal 41 Hz ERG following exposure to a bright light that bleaches a significant proportion of photopigment. The aims of this study were: 1) to compare the repeatability of the ERG photostress test recovery time constant following long and short duration light exposure, and 2) to determine the effect of age on the ERG photostress test recovery time constant.


Focal 41 Hz ERGs were recorded from 23 participants (age range 20–71 years) at 20-second intervals for 5 minutes following either a short-duration (photoflash) or long-duration (equilibrium) light exposure. After a 5-minute wash-out period, the procedure was repeated using the second bleach modality. The time constant of cone recovery was determined by fitting an exponential model to the amplitude recovery data. The whole procedure was repeated on a second occasion. The co-efficient of repeatability (CoR) was calculated for each bleaching technique. The relationship between the time constant of recovery and age was investigated (Pearson’s correlation coefficient).


The time constant of recovery following an equilibrium bleach was more repeatable than recovery following a photoflash (CoR = 85s and 184s respectively). Eight trials (from seven participants) failed to show a reduction in amplitude following the photoflash, suggesting that a blink or fixation loss had occurred. All participants were reliably light-adapted by the equilibrium bleach. For the equilibrium bleach data, the time constant of recovery increased with age at a rate of 27 seconds per decade.


The equilibrium bleach was more reliable and repeatable than the photoflash. Increasing participant age was shown to result in a lengthening of the recovery time constant, of a magnitude comparable to previously published psychophysical data.


Electroretinogram, ERG Cone adaptation Repeatability Age-related macular degeneration 


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of Optometry and Vision SciencesCardiff UniversityCathays, CardiffUK

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