Highs and lows

New tools enable optometrists to keep a better eye on high- and low-contrast visual acuity in older patients


The drops seen in high- and low-contrast visual acuity in the over-65s can now be well monitored with new liquid crystal display (LCD) screening systems, an Aston University researcher has concluded.

The university’s Marie Curie research fellow, Dr Fabrizio Zeri, recently used the LCD systems to track high- and low-contrast visual acuity in 376 patients across a range of ages, in research presented at this year’s European Academy of Optometry and Optics Annual Conference (19–22 May, Berlin).

Dr Zeri told OT that: “New LCD systems for [visual acuity] measurement offer the possibility to measure contrast sensitivity in easier and quicker way than before.

“This was already [possible using] some chart optotypes [standardised symbols] such as the Bailey-Lovie low contrast chart, but these kinds of tests have not had large diffusion in clinical settings,” he explained.

Dr Zeri highlighted that the drop in high- and, particularly, low-contrast visual acuity that he found in his research supported the results of previous studies. The findings of his study with a large sample of patients could act as a point of reference for clinicians seeking to understand the normal ranges of visual acuities in different age groups, he said.

“After [65], it is possible to observe a physiological decline, especially for low-contrast acuity. We have to try to keep best visual performance within this range and advise people when visual acuities fall down too much because this can have consequences in everyday life,” he concluded.