Late age-related maculopathy (ARM) is responsible for the majority of blind registrations in the Western world among persons over 50 years of age. It has devastating effects on quality of life and independence and is becoming a major public health concern. Current treatment options are limited and most aim to slow progression rather than restore vision; therefore, early detection to identify those patients most suitable for these interventions is essential. In this work, we review the literature encompassing the investigation of visual function in ARM in order to highlight those visual function parameters which are affected very early in the disease process. We pay particular attention to measures of acuity, contrast sensitivity (CS), cone function, electrophysiology, visual adaptation, central visual field sensitivity and metamorphopsia. We also consider the impact of bilateral late ARM on visual function as well as the relationship between measures of vision function and self-reported visual functioning. Much interest has centred on the identification of functional changes which may predict progression to neovascular disease; therefore, we outline the longitudinal studies, which to date have reported dark-adaptation time, short-wavelength cone sensitivity, colour-match area effect, dark-adapted foveal sensitivity, foveal flicker sensitivity, slow recovery from glare and slower foveal electroretinogram implicit time as functional risk factors for the development of neovascular disease. Despite progress in this area, we emphasise the need for longitudinal studies designed in light of developments in disease classification and retinal imaging, which would ensure the correct classification of cases and controls, and provide increased understanding of the natural course and progression of the disease and further elucidate the structure-function relationships in this devastating disorder.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Sensory Systems