The investigation of the sensitivity gradient of the visual field, as a function of stimulus dynamic range, in the normal and abnormal eye

  • Joanne M. Wood

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy


The study utilized the advanced technology provided by automated perimeters to investigate the hypothesis that patients with retinitis pigmentosa behave atypically over the dynamic range and to concurrently determine the influence of extraneous factors on the format of the normal perimetric sensitivity profile. The perimetric processing of some patients with retinitis pigmentosa was considered to be abnormal in either the temporal and/or the spatial domain. The standard size III stimulus saturated the central regions and was thus ineffective in detecting early depressions in sensitivity in these areas. When stimulus size was scaled in inverse proportion to the square root of ganglion cell receptive field density (M-scaled), isosensitive profiles did not result, although cortical representation was theoretically equivalent across the visual field. It was conjectured that this was due to variations in the ganglion cell characteristics with increasing peripheral angle, most notably spatial summation. It was concluded that the development of perimetric routines incorporating stimulus sizes adjusted in proportion to the coverage factor of retinal ganglion cells would enhance the diagnostic capacity of perimetry. Good general and local correspondence was found between perimetric sensitivity and the available retinal cell counts. Intraocular light scatter arising both from simulations and media opacities depressed perimetric sensitivity. Attenuation was greater centrally for the smaller LED stimuli, whereas the reverse was true for the larger projected stimuli. Prior perimetric experience and pupil size also demonstrated eccentricity-dependent effect on sensitivity. Practice improved perimetric sensitivity for projected stimuli at eccentricities greater than or equal to 30o; particularly in the superior region. Increase in pupil size for LED stimuli enhanced sensitivity at eccentricities greater than 10o. Conversely, microfluctuation in the accommodative response during perimetric examination and the correction of peripheral refractive error had no significant influence on perimetric sensitivity.
Date of Award1987
Original languageEnglish


  • sensitivity gradient
  • visual field
  • stimulus dynamic range
  • normal eye
  • abnormal eye

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