Contrast sensitivity (CS) in children is not routinely measured in the clinical setting, although CS losses have been found in amblyopic and premature children. Thus simple visual acuity measurements do not completely assess their quality of vision. To evaluate contrast sensitivity in children, a reliable and easy test, sampling the entire spatial frequency range, is necessary.
This study aimed to evaluate the repeatability and normal range of the contrast sensitivity function measured using the Topcon CC-100 instrument, in children aged between 4 and 9 years, for use as a diagnostic tool.
Contrast sensitivity was measured in 25 children, 11 boys and 14 girls, with normal or corrected-to-normal visual acuity, normal binocular function, and stereopsis. Two measurements were performed, 3 months apart, with a Topcon CC-100 device using achromatic sinusoidal gratings of 1.5, 3, 6, 12, and 18 cycles per degree (cpd) with random orientation in a circular window with sharp edges.
The normal range in the first visit is wider than in the second. Coefficients of variation are better for the middle-range spatial frequencies (6.6 and 7.8% at 3 and 6 cpd, respectively) and worst at 18 cpd (18.2%), with intermediate values at 1.5 cpd (11.3%) and 12 cpd (13.7%), and better for older than for younger children. No significant sex differences were found (P > .05, Mann-Whitney U test).
Repeatability measured by the coefficient of variation is better for the middle frequency range (3 and 6 cpd) than for low (1.5 cpd) and high frequencies (12 and 18 cpd). The variability of the differences between the first and second measurements suggests that the participants were not able to maintain a stable response criterion. The test seems to be subject to a learning effect, and the standard normality range may not be adequate for children.