Influence of age and spectral power distribution on mesopic visual sensitivity
The ability of the human visual system to detect stimuli at low illumination levels provides awareness of potential risks. The influence of age and spectral power distribution on mesopic spectral sensitivity is analyzed. Two typical light sources are used, a high-pressure sodium lamp (HPS), with a higher content of long wavelengths, and a metal halide lamp (MH), with a higher content of short wavelengths. Two experiments were performed, using a two-channel Maxwellian-view optical system to measure contrast threshold under different experimental conditions. In Experiment 1, three age groups (young, middle-aged and old, n = 2 each), two retinal locations (on-axis and off-axis vision), four background luminances (0.01, 0.07, 0.45, and 3.2 cd/m2), and two photometry systems (photopic and the MES2 systems) were considered. In Experiment 2, contrast threshold measurement was performed with two age groups (young and old, n = 11 each), one retinal location (off-axis vision), one background luminance (0.01 cd/m2), and two photometry systems (photopic and the MES2 systems). In on-axis vision, neither age nor spectral power distribution have an effect on the contrast threshold. In off-axis vision, however, a significant interaction between age and spectral power distribution is obtained, albeit only at 0.01 cd/m2 with an MH lamp. Only at this lowest background luminance was the greater content of short wavelengths of this lamp responsible for higher rod stimulation in off-axis vision, with the subsequent improvement in detection performance in young subjects. However, the effect of diffused light inside the aged eye counteracted the benefits of increased rod sensitivity for the MH lamp.
KeywordsAging Visual perception
The authors acknowledge the Spanish Ministerio de Economía y Competitividad (MINECO) (FIS2016-78037-P). Dr. J. A. Aparicio expresses his personal acknowledgment to the Organización Nacional de Ciegos de España (ONCE) for help.
Dr. Juan Aparicio (Apa) passed away during the revision process of this paper, after a long illness. The other authors want to acknowledge his guidance throughout this research. He had a leading role from the beginning of this project, providing original ideas, setting up the experimental apparatus, and becoming highly involved in the modeling of the data. His thoughtful comments on this paper, until the end of his days, were crucial for the success of the present work.
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