Purpose. Despite widespread agreement that dark adaptation is abnormal in age-related maculopathy (ARM), the optimal retinal location for detection of this deficit is unclear. We quantified the diagnostic potential of cone dark adaptation as a function of retinal eccentricity and compared this with the diagnostic potential of the time to the rod-cone-break (RCB).
Methods. Cone dark adaptation was monitored after an 80% cone photopigment bleach in 10 subjects with ARM and 10 age-matched controls, using four achromatic annuli (0.5, 2, 7, and 12° radius) centered on the fovea. Threshold recovery data were modeled and the time constant of cone recovery (τ), final cone threshold, and time to RCB were determined. Diagnostic potential was evaluated by constructing receiver operating characteristic curves for these parameters.
Results. Cone τ was significantly longer for the ARM group at 2, 7, and 12°. The greatest difference between groups was observed at 12° from fixation. At this location, the mean τ was 3.49 (±2.02) min and 0.64 (±0.38) min for ARM and control subjects, respectively (p = 0.002), and time to RCB was 17.68 (±5.37) min and 9.05 (±2.11) min for ARM and control subjects, respectively (p = 0.001). Correspondingly, receiver operating characteristic curves showed that the diagnostic potential of dark adaptometry is greatest for stimuli presented 12° from fixation; for cone τ, the area under the curve = 0.99 ± 0.02 and for time to RCB, area under the curve = 0.96 ± 0.04.
Conclusions. This study has shown cone-mediated dark adaptation to be significantly impaired in ARM. Our results provide compelling evidence in support of the diagnostic potential of cone dark adaptation and the use of annular stimuli at 12°. The observation that cone τ is highly diagnostic at this eccentricity is significant clinically because this parameter may be quantified within a few minutes.