Retinal sensitivity to flicker modulation: Reduced by early age-related maculopathy

Benedetto Falsini, Antonello Fadda, Giancarlo Iarossi, Marco Piccardi, Doriana Canu, Angelo Minnella, Sebastiano Serrao, Luigi Scullica

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


PURPOSE. To evaluate retinal, cone-mediated flicker sensitivity (CFS) in age-related maculopathy (ARM) by quantifying response gain and threshold of the focal electroretinogram (FERG) to flicker modulation. METHODS. Nineteen patients with ARM (visual acuity ≥20/30) and 11 age-matched control subjects were examined. Twelve patients had less than 20 soft drusen in the macular region and no hyper-/hypopigmentation (early lesion), whereas seven had more than 20 soft drusen and/or focal hyper-/hypopigmentation (advanced lesion). Macular (18°) FERGs were elicited by a sinusoidally flickering (41 Hz) uniform field (on a light-adapting background) whose modulation depth was varied between 16.5% and 94%. Amplitude and phase of the response's fundamental harmonic were measured. RESULTS. In both control subjects and patients with ARM, log FERG amplitude increased with log stimulus modulation depth with a straight line (power law) relation. However, the slope (or gain) of the function was, on average, steeper in control subjects than in patients with either early or advanced lesions. Mean FERG threshold, estimated from the value of the log modulation depth that yielded a criterion response, did not differ between control subjects and patients with early lesions but was increased (0.35 log units) compared with control subjects in those with advanced lesions. In both patient groups, but not in control subjects, mean FERG phase tended to delay with decreasing stimulus modulation depth. CONCLUSIONS. Retinal CFS losses can be detected in ARM by evaluating the FERG as a function of flicker modulation depth. Reduced response gain and phase delays, with normal thresholds, are associated with early lesions. Increased response thresholds, in addition to gain and phase abnormalities, may reflect more advanced lesions. Evaluating CFS by FERG may directly document different stages of macular dysfunction in ARM.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1498-1506
Number of pages9
JournalInvestigative Ophthalmology and Visual Science
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 2000

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ophthalmology


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