Macular Inner Retinal Layer Thickness in Relation to Photopic and Mesopic Contrast Sensitivity in Healthy Young and Older Subjects

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Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology (ARVO)
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Purpose: To examine relationships between the thicknesses of ganglion cell (GC)-related macular layers and central photopic or mesopic contrast sensitivity (CS) in healthy eyes. Methods: Measurements were made in 38 young and 38 older healthy individuals. Total, inner, and outer retinal layer (IRL) thicknesses were measured in the macula region through spectral-domain optical coherence tomography (SD-OCT) across three subfields, or rings, centered at the fovea: central foveal, pericentral, and peripheral. Ganglion cell complex and circumpapillary retinal nerve fiber layer thicknesses were also measured. Low-spatial-frequency CS for gratings presented at the central 10° visual field were measured through computerized psychophysical tests under photopic and mesopic conditions. Relationships were examined by uni- and multivariate regression analysis. Results: Peripheral IRL thickness emerged as the only independent predictor of photopic CS (P = 0.001) in the young group and of photopic (P = 0.026) and mesopic CS (P = 0.001) in the older group. The slopes of regression lines used to predict CS from peripheral IRL thickness were significantly different for pair-wise comparisons of both photopic CS and age group (P = 0.0001) and mesopic CS (P = 0.0001) and age group. These models explained 37% of the variability in photopic CS and 36% of the variability in mesopic CS. Conclusions: Macular IRL thinning likely due to GC loss was related to reduced photopic and mesopic CS in older healthy eyes. In contrast, in the young eyes, a thicker macular IRL, possibly indicating transient gliosis, was associated with reduced CS.
Submitted: July 19, 2018 Accepted: October 18, 2018