April 2011
Volume 52, Issue 14
ARVO Annual Meeting Abstract  |   April 2011
The Measurement of Infant Contrast Sensitivity
Author Affiliations & Notes
  • Angela M. Brown
    College of Optometry, Ohio State University, Columbus, Ohio
  • Delwin T. Lindsey
    Department of Psychology, Ohio State University, Mansfield, Ohio
  • Kevin M. Guckes
    College of Optometry, Ohio State University, Columbus, Ohio
  • Footnotes
    Commercial Relationships  Angela M. Brown, #61/250,076 (P); Delwin T. Lindsey, #61/250,076 (P); Kevin M. Guckes, None
  • Footnotes
    Support  NIH Grants R21EY018321, R21EY018321-02S1, and UL1RR025755
Investigative Ophthalmology & Visual Science April 2011, Vol.52, 5723. doi:
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      Angela M. Brown, Delwin T. Lindsey, Kevin M. Guckes; The Measurement of Infant Contrast Sensitivity. Invest. Ophthalmol. Vis. Sci. 2011;52(14):5723.

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      © ARVO (1962-2015); The Authors (2016-present)

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Purpose: : To develop a way to measure infant contrast sensitivity using a single stimulus. Others have measured the multiple parameters of the full contrast sensitivity function (CSF) using sine-wave gratings at multiple spatial frequencies (Adams et al, Optom Vis Sci, 1992), a lengthy and inconvenient method. Instead, we propose using a single, very low-spatial-frequency square-wave grating to measure the maximum of the CSF, without knowing at what spatial frequency it occurs. The key insight is that the amplitude of the harmonics in a square wave varies inversely with spatial frequency, whereas their packing density varies directly with spatial frequency. Thus, the spatial frequency channels all receive approximately equal stimulation: the low frequency channels detect fewer, higher-amplitude harmonics, whereas the high frequency channels detect more, lower-amplitude harmonics. Therefore the contrast sensitivity for a low-spatial-frequency square-wave will be constant and either equal to the maximum of the sine-wave CSF (channels from Wilson & Gelb, Vis Res, 1984), or 0.13-0.33 log units below the maximum (channels from Majoj et al, Vis Res, 2002). Classic adult data (Nachmias, JOSA, 1967; Campbell & Robson, J Physiol, 1968) are consistent with this prediction. Here, we report the contrast sensitivity of normal infants, measured using a conventional CSF and a low-frequency square-wave stimulus.

Methods: : We tested 93 normal 4-month-olds, using horizontal 24° x 24° gratings and forced-choice preferential looking: we measured the sine-wave CSF (12-16 infants at each of 5 spatial frequencies) and we measured contrast sensitivity using a 0.125 cy/deg square-wave grating (13 infants).

Results: : The square-wave contrast sensitivity was 0.16 (SE=0.07) log units below the maximum sensitivity of the CSF, which was 20% and occurred at 1 cy/deg.

Conclusions: : The precision of the measurement does not allow us to decide between the two channels models, but it does suggest that measurement using a low-spatial-frequency square wave can approximate the maximum of the sine-wave CSF. A clinical test based on a low spatial frequency square wave will allow the clinician to estimate the maximum of the contrast sensitivity function in a single measurement, without knowing the spatial frequency at which it occurs. A test of the maximum of the CSF will provide a measure of the overall visual performance of infant, toddler, and handicapped patients who cannot read an eye chart.

Keywords: infant vision • contrast sensitivity • clinical (human) or epidemiologic studies: systems/equipment/techniques 

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