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Can glaucoma affect contrast sensitivity?

Yes. Glaucoma can cause a loss of contrast sensitivity. Contrast sensitivity is what allows us to detect things like different shades of the same color.

For instance, when you look at stairs, the flat part of the stair is usually brighter than the vertical part of the stair. To see the stairs you need to be able to tell the differences between the two levels of brightness. This requires good contrast sensitivity.

Contrast is also relevant to driving. When you are driving, you keep your bearings on the road by making judgments about the limits of the roadway, the position of the lanes, and the presence of other cars, obstacles or hazards that might affect your driving decisions. To detect these features you need to have reasonably good contrast sensitivity. Often your ability to see these things may also be complicated by other factors such as shadows, glare and other lighting effects.

Last reviewed on April 12, 2011

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