Contrast Sensitivity is Underrated

in StemSocial2 months ago

Greetings to all and sundry,

It is a beautiful day today and definitely a good time to learn, but I know most of us are excited not because of an opportunity to learn but because it is a Friday. Well, who am I to judge, for I am pretty happy that Friday is here and the weekend is starting. It is time to rest, recuperate, wash, catch up on extracurriculars, etc.


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But even as you do that do take a minute or two and join today's discussion on our ocular health, perhaps it may be of benefit to you or it could direct you in seeking eyecare and finding a solution to that lasting eye issue that has been bothering you over the years that you are neglecting. Time to take your health to the next level, let's learn about contrast sensitivity.


So many aspects of vision only come in when things seem not to work the normal route. Much like some other systemic conditions which do not form part of routine examination and yet could be more problematic for patients such is the way of contrast sensitivity. It is one such test that I personally believe ought to come in right after visual acuity measurement and should be standardized as routine everywhere.

Most often we are all concerned about whether or not we can perceive or see if we can see that this number is two or that this man is standing there he is a man and he is tall is fine, an added bonus comes in when we can identify the color of the shirt correctly but as to whether the shade of the color of the shirt is right or the brightness with which we see them is good enough it is often overlooked.


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And so there are many patients out there whose vision is quite good, as a matter of fact, I had a patient some time back whose vision was so good she could read 6/6 and for an old woman in her middle 60s I was happy for her and told her she is blessed because it is not every day that you get to see such things in the eye clinic however this woman still claimed she couldn't see and I was wondering why she was so bothered when her vision surpasses people her age.

Then I was prompted by a literature review to take another look and this time look in the direction of contrast sensitivity that was when I realized that contrast sensitivity is truly underrated and has a lot of value to people, especially geriatrics, and should be quite a concern. I did the test and her vision was quite bad with the sensitivity test and it was all due to her posterior subcapsular cataract. Cataract extraction surgery was done and you can imagine her delight post-op. I am sure you are wondering what this whole thing that I have started telling stories about is?

Contrast Sensitivity

Well, when we talk of contrast sensitivity is an aspect of vision that looks at one's ability to be able to perceive slight changes in illumination such that even where there are no borders we can easily tell between two regions or areas. And so an individual whose contrast sensitivity is quite good can easily tell a Teal from a Sapphire and these are colors that are so similar you could easily mistake one for the other.

When your contrast sensitivity is good your ability to identify objects in dim light is great and this comes in very handy for drivers, I know better because since I started driving I have come to understand how good it feels to have great vision and even more how nice it is to drive with great contrast sensitivity. You can tolerate disability (please check my blog on glare for a better understanding) glare better you do not miss potholes and you feel more confident behind the wheel.


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In the fog one with good contrast sensitivity sees better and would probably drive you safer and so currently to gain a driving license in Ghana contrast sensitivity test is part of the options that ought to be done or checked by your optometrist to access how well you fare under bright and dim illumination, unfortunately, this is an optional test and most people would choose to skip this especially if the workload is a whole lot the patient number is substantial for the facility.

But contrast sensitivity is important and if you feel your ability to tell contrast is dimming then it should be a concern because then aside from senility it is mostly related to some form or pathology or condition. Individuals who tend to suffer the most from reduced contrast sensitivity are cataract patients, unfortunately, cataract surgery is best done when it has matured which means the individual may have to live with the condition for quite a while suffering from reduced contrast sensitivity during this period.

The most common complaint is that they can see however their vision is foggy and they find it more difficult to tell contrast between areas, this is a result of the lens becoming translucent though but this is a daily struggle for these individuals. Aside from cataract conditions like glaucoma, refractive errors, optic nerve atrophy, and other optic nerve conditions as well as amblyopia could be the cause of reduced contrast sensitivity.

What could be done for you if you are experiencing difficulties with contrast? Well, aside from the fact that the underlying cause could be dealt with to make things better for you some types of lenses are known to improve contrast sensitivity for patients. Some patients of mine who could afford a polaroid lens reported improved contrast sensitivity and quality of life.


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Yellow filter lenses are also known to work quite well in improving contrast sensitivity. Sometimes these may be the solution to the problem because, unlike my cataract patient who could get the cataractous lens removed, you cannot do much about the case of glaucoma or optic nerve atrophy, or even amblyopia. And so if you have been having issues similar to what is been discussed today then it is time to see an Optometrist.

So for your next visit to your Optometrist you can explain better as to how you can see and read the Snellen chart or reading chart in his office and yet still cannot appreciate the quality of vision you used to have. Take time to explain the fogginess you experience every day and how things ain't comfortable as they used to and he or she would do well to give you any of these solutions we have discussed.


Remember that you can have good vision and still be handicapped due to contrast sensitivity, do not take it for granted, and do not underestimate the importance of this aspect of your vision. Your health is your wealth and your eyes are your world, take good care of them so that you may continue to enjoy the beauty and wonders of mother nature.


by @nattybongo

When in doubt always consult a professional, speak to your healthcare provider, and avoid over-the-counter medication without thorough examination, you may be putting your sight at risk by engaging in such habits, be safe always and I do hope you enjoy the weekend. I am always available to help, thanks for passing by.

Further Reading

Rieger G. (1992). Improvement of contrast sensitivity with yellow filter glasses. Canadian journal of ophthalmology. Journal canadien d'ophtalmologie, 27(3), 137–138.

Richman, J., Spaeth, G. L., & Wirostko, B. (2013). Contrast sensitivity basics and a critique of currently available tests. Journal of cataract and refractive surgery, 39(7), 1100–1106.

Pelli, D. G., & Bex, P. (2013). Measuring contrast sensitivity. Vision Research, 90, 10–14.

Packer, M., Fine, I. H., & Hoffman, R. S. (2006). Contrast sensitivity and measuring cataract outcomes. Ophthalmology clinics of North America, 19(4), 521–533.


I feel like my eyes are quiet sharp now, and I am so grateful for that, but once I can afford lenses meant for eye protection against excessive light, I don't know what they are called, but I am definitely getting one, because I am constantly staring at my phone or my laptop and I know that is not healthy for my eye at all.

You should definitely get it, it would do you a lot of good, just pay a call to the nearest eye facility and they will sort you out

Great post about the importance of contrast sensitivity in our vision and how it affects our daily life. The story of the patient highlights the significance of this test and how it can be overlooked in routine eye exams. Your insights on different conditions that can lead to reduced contrast sensitivity and the available solutions, such as polaroid lenses and yellow filter lenses, are very informative and helpful. Keep up the good work!

Thank you senior, i am happy to see you pass through, it is always pleasure

The eyes are very important organs that nobody jokes with. The importance of consulting a professional for any eye symptom cannot be over emphasised. Some who go to quacks for their sights most times end of damaging the eyes more.

Thanks for the professional guide and awareness.

It is my pleasure, i am glad to know you got something out of it

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