Measures of visual contrast sensitivity (VCS), rather than traditional measures of visual acuity using high-contrast stimuli, have been presented as better appraisals of visual dysfunction resulting from chemical exposures. The present study sought to determine if differences exist between two available measures of contrast sensitivity that use similar stimuli, specifically, a hand-held chart and an Optec 1000 vision tester. Monocular contrast sensitivity measures using both tests were obtained from 45 individuals as part of a NIOSH neurobehavioral test-battery appraisal. Test-retest reliability was found to be high for both the hand-held system and the Optec 1000 test (r=.750 and .773, respectively). In comparison to the automated test, the hand-held version produced statistically significant higher contrast sensitivity scores for lower spatial frequencies (1.5 and 3.0 cycles per degree) and lower scores for a relatively higher spatial frequency (18.0 cycles per degree [cpd]). Consequently, this study documents a difference in spatial frequency scores obtained with the hand-held form and Optec 1000 form of contrast sensitivity test, and attributes these differences to design characteristics affecting viewing. It is concluded that caution should be taken when making absolute comparisons of contrast sensitivity test scores between neurobehavioral studies that have used different forms of VCS testing.
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, Division of Applied Research and Technology, 4676 Columbia Parkway, MS C-24, Cincinnati, OH 45226-1998
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