Reliability of Testing Methodology for Visual Acuity, Contrast Sensitivity


Pinakin Davey, DO, PhD, discusses the findings of his study comparing reliability of testing methodologies for visual acuity and contrast sensitivity at ARVO 2019.

With technology in medicine, specifically ophthalmology, advancing, clinicians are always looking for the best ways to help their patients.

Visual acuity and contrast sensitivity are among the most common measures of visual abilities and a battery of tests exists to measure them. ETDRS has been a standard for many across the countries for decades, but could a newer test be just as, if not more, accurate?

Pinakin Davey, DO, PhD, professor and director of research at Western University, helped author a study presented at the 2019 Annual Meeting of the Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology that explored the reliability of testing methodologies for measuring visual acuity and contrast sensitivity.

Davey sat down with MD Magazine® at the meeting to discuss the findings of the study and what they could mean for clinicians going forward.

MD Mag: What did you find when comparing testing methodology for measuring visual acuity and contrast sensitivity?

Davey: The study is done in collaboration with UC Riverside and our fundamental question is: Can visual function be improved with either vitamin therapy or by exercises or actually combining the two can give you a more beneficial outcome? It is very important that we be able to measure the visual function accurately as well as, is there a way to enhance the visual function in cases where you have these chronic degenerative diseases, which is taking away the function of the retina. So, as a first step we decided to evaluate visual function and check its repeatability of various testing measures in a group of population that we were interested in. We were interested in looking at young healthy individuals and if we can show improvement in visual function. So, we chose a battery of tests, a group of tests, certain contrast sensitivity testing and certain visual acuity testing.

Visual acuity the standard has always been ETDRS testing measures, where we have other measures also available and we were trying to see if this was reproducible or repeatable in

short-term as well as slightly long term, meaning a week later what was the reproducibility of testing to get an overall idea of the noise in the data and we find that it's interesting that

certain metrics perform better than ETDRS system and having an idea of reproducibility of all these values will set the tone and the baseline for our next experiment.

MD Mag: Do you expect ophthalmologists and optometrists to begin moving away from using ETDRS in the near future?

Davey: ETDRS was an excellent test for its time but we have to look back and say “That was 30 years ago can we improve upon some of these things that we have learned and make them better?” and I believe that doing the same thing over and over again we will be stagnant and looking at some of these newer techniques perhaps even contrast sensitivity might become more reliable entity of measures in both diseased and healthy individuals.

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