Contrast sensitivity loss is coupled with capillary dropout in patients with diabetes

Oliver Arend, Andreas Remky, David Evans, Reinhard Stüber, Alon Harris

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

101 Scopus citations


Purpose. To assess the relationship of foveal microcirculation to contrast sensitivity function in early diabetes mellitus. Methods. Twenty patients with diabetes with visual acuity of 20/25 or better without clinically significant macular edema were evaluated. Measurements of contrast sensitivity at four spatial frequencies (3, 6, 12, and 18 cycles/degree [c/deg]), macular capillary blood velocity (CBV), capillary density (PIA: perifoveal intercapillary area), foveal avascular zone (FAZ), and microaneurysm count were performed. Contrast sensitivity data collected from age-matched normal subjects and previously published normal angiographic data were used for comparison with our cohort with diabetes. Results. The CBV was significantly reduced (P < 0.0001) and PIA and FAZ were significantly enlarged (P < 0.0001) when compared with healthy subjects: Contrast sensitivity was significantly lower in the group with diabetes at 6 (P = 0.01) and 12 (P = 0.002) c/deg as compared with healthy control values. FAZ and PIA correlated significantly (FAZ; r = -0.60, P = 0.005; PIA; r = -0.54, P = 0.02) with contrast sensitivity at 12 c/deg: Conclusions. The alterations of the perifoveal network are related to selective disturbances of central visual function as measured by contrast sensitivity. In patients with diabetes measurement of contrast sensitivity may provide a clinical adjunct in further identifying early ischemic diabetic maculopathy.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1819-1824
Number of pages6
JournalInvestigative Ophthalmology and Visual Science
Issue number9
StatePublished - Aug 1997
Externally publishedYes


  • Contrast sensitivity
  • Diabetic maculopathy
  • Fluorescein angi- ography
  • Retinal ischemia
  • Scanning laser ophthalmoscope


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