The Effect of Age-Related Macular Degeneration on Polarization Pattern Perception

Gary P. Misson*, Stephen J. Anderson, Richard A. Armstrong, Mark Gilett, David Reynolds

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Purpose: The purpose of this study was to determine if a battery of polarization-modulated stimuli, quantified as a single metric, is effective in identifying macular disease in the presence/absence of cataract or pseudophakia.
Methods: Using a modified liquid crystal display, polarization pattern perception (PPP) for a formulated battery of geometric and logMAR stimuli was evaluated in participants that had either no eye pathology (healthy participants) or were grouped according to the presence of cataract, pseudophakia, and/or age-related macular degeneration (AMD). PPP was quantified as response frequencies to individual stimuli, and as a novel monocular polarization sensitivity score (Ps) based on perception of the stimulus battery set.
Results: Stimulus response frequencies were pattern-dependent and, compared with healthy participants, reduced for cataract and AMD groups but not for subjects with pseudophakia. Compared with healthy eyes (n = 47, median Ps = 17), Ps was significantly reduced by AMD (n = 59, median Ps = 1, P < 0.001) and, to a lesser extent, by cataracts (n = 80, median Ps = 6, P < 0.001). There was no significant difference between Ps for healthy and pseudophakic eyes (n = 47, median Ps = 13, P = 0.323). There was no significant correlation between Ps and logMAR visual acuity.
Conclusions: In the absence of significant cataract, or in pseudophakia, a set of polarization-modulated visual stimuli, quantified as the Ps score, distinguishes AMD from healthy maculae.
Translational Relevance: Perception of polarization-modulated stimuli, previously shown to be macula-dependent in a laboratory setting, is effective as a test of macular function in health and disease in a clinic setting.
Original languageEnglish
Article number8
Number of pages12
JournalTranslational Vision Science & Technology
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - 5 Aug 2021

Bibliographical note

Copyright 2021 The Authors. This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.

Funding: G.P.M. is partly funded by a grant from the European Society of Cataract and Refractive Surgeons.


  • Polarized light
  • vision
  • Haidinger’s brushes
  • macula
  • macular pigment
  • Macula
  • Vision
  • Macular pigment
  • Refraction, Ocular
  • Humans
  • Visual Acuity
  • Macular Degeneration/diagnosis
  • Cataract/diagnosis
  • Pseudophakia


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