Individual Differences in Scotopic Visual Acuity and Contrast Sensitivity: Genetic and Non-Genetic Influences.

Journal Article (Journal Article)

Despite the large amount of variation found in the night (scotopic) vision capabilities of healthy volunteers, little effort has been made to characterize this variation and factors, genetic and non-genetic, that influence it. In the largest population of healthy observers measured for scotopic visual acuity (VA) and contrast sensitivity (CS) to date, we quantified the effect of a range of variables on visual performance. We found that young volunteers with excellent photopic vision exhibit great variation in their scotopic VA and CS, and this variation is reliable from one testing session to the next. We additionally identified that factors such as Circadian preference, iris color, astigmatism, depression, sex and education have no significant impact on scotopic visual function. We confirmed previous work showing that the amount of time spent on the vision test influences performance and that laser eye surgery results in worse scotopic vision. We also showed a significant effect of intelligence and photopic visual performance on scotopic VA and CS, but all of these variables collectively explain <30% of the variation in scotopic vision. The wide variation seen in young healthy volunteers with excellent photopic vision, the high test-retest agreement, and the vast majority of the variation in scotopic vision remaining unexplained by obvious non-genetic factors suggests a strong genetic component. Our preliminary genome-wide association study (GWAS) of 106 participants ruled out any common genetic variants of very large effect and paves the way for future, larger genetic studies of scotopic vision.

Full Text

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • Bartholomew, AJ; Lad, EM; Cao, D; Bach, M; Cirulli, ET

Published Date

  • 2016

Published In

Volume / Issue

  • 11 / 2

Start / End Page

  • e0148192 -

PubMed ID

  • 26886100

Pubmed Central ID

  • 26886100

Electronic International Standard Serial Number (EISSN)

  • 1932-6203

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.1371/journal.pone.0148192


  • eng

Conference Location

  • United States