Color and Contrast Sensitivity for Early Wet AMD Detection

Color and Contrast Sensitivity for Early Wet AMD Detection

Posted under Eye Health, Low Vision Info

There are several vision changes that affect those with macular degeneration besides the loss of central vision.  Cone cells are concentrated in the fovea – which is the center of the macula located in the back of the eye.  These photoreceptor cells are responsible for detailed, sharp vision but also provide us with the ability to see and distinguish colors.  As the cone cells degenerate or die, colors become more faded and aren’t nearly as bright or brilliant as they are for someone with a healthy macula.   Along with the loss of color, comes the loss of contrast sensitivity.  Being able to tell if your shoes are navy blue or black becomes more difficult and seeing a white car on a cloudy or snowy day can be challenging.

Researchers at Aston University in Birmingham, UK are using this knowledge in a clinical trial that will be testing a patient’s ability to see colors and distinguish contrast as a test for early wet macular degeneration.  Eye clinicians have seen how the treatment of anti-VEGF medications, like Avastin, Lucentis and Eylea have made an impact in improving the vision of those with wet AMD or those with choroidal neovascularization.  They also realize that the earlier the treatment, the better the outcome.   According to the study coordinators, success is more likely when treatments occur at a very early stage.”  The difficulty is in detecting early choroidal neovascularization before symptoms appear and before retinal damage has occurred. The study, called Color Contrast Sensitivity for the Early Detection of Wet Age-Related Macular Degeneration, “ will evaluate techniques that may be useful in flagging subjects with the “preclinical” stages of the disease. This may allow early preventative measures to be taken, in order to stop altogether the onset of (legal) blindness.”

While there are many sophisticated machines and technologies for viewing or imaging the macula, this study will focus on something far less technologically advanced.  “The study will focus mainly on colour contrast sensitivity, a simple but highly sensitive technique to assess retinal function, to establish if people with wet ARMD can be identified before symptoms develop. “

The study estimates to enroll 210 participants who meet the criteria of being 50 and older with wet AMD in only one eye.   While you may not be able to participate in the color contrast sensitivity trial, find out how you can maximize your usable vision using color and contrast.

Using Color and Contrast to Maximize Usable Vision


Leslie Degner, RN, BSN