Do You Have a Problem with Contrast Sensitivity?

  • February 7, 2022
~Do You Have a Problem with Contrast Sensitivity?~

You’re not alone. Loss of contrast sensitivity is an extremely common condition associated with aging – and a common problem for people with glaucoma. Contrast sensitivity is what allows us to detect things like different shades of the same color. It refers to the difference in luminance or color that makes an object distinguishable. Loss of contrast sensitivity can hamper many daily activities. For example, patients may notice some signs when they have difficulty with:

  • Driving at night, or in foggy, rainy, or glare conditions, and accurately determining distances, the position of the lanes, and the presence of other cars. (An article on driving with glaucoma will appear in the next newsletter issue.)
  • Reading a newspaper or magazine where the print contrast against the paper background is poor and tight line spacing may confound.
  • Distinguishing objects when they are similar in color to their background, like finding a black wallet in a black purse; or pouring coffee into a dark-colored mug.The threshold at which you see the target when taking a visual field test is one indication of your threshold sensitivity. There is also a contrast sensitivity gradient that your doctor can administer to assess your level.

    You may be able to improve contrast sensitivity with the use of various tinted glasses, working with your doctor or low vision specialist. Also, when you can control it, use good lighting.