Using two preferred retinal loci for different lighting conditions in patients with central scotomas

Hong Lei, Ronald A. Schuchard

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

136 Scopus citations


Purpose. Using a scanning laser ophthalmoscope, it was found that some patients with relative central scotomas reliably used two different preferred retinal loci (PRLs) at different stimulus illuminances. This article describes adaptations in a patient's PRL for fixation when dimming the stimulus increased the relative scotoma size. Methods. Twenty-eight patients with macular diseases had either dense and relative macular scotoma borders mapped with the scanning laser ophthalmoscope. The high-illuminance PRL (PRLhi) and low-illuminance PRL (PRLlo) were operationally defined as the PRLs that patients used to fixate a high or low illuminance stimulus, respectively. The PRL's abilities to do visual tasks and their characteristics at the corresponding illuminances were assessed. Results. The PRL consistently shifted between the PRLhi and the PRLlo as the stimulus illuminance was changed. Brightness permitting, the visual system prefers to use the PRLhi with generally better performance in visual function such as fixation stability. There were no significant differences between the PRLhi and the PRLlo in pursuit and saccadic abilities, when assessed by subjective ratings. The illuminances that induced shifting ranged from 106 to 3437 trolands. The PRLhi was always located within an area of relative scotoma, usually at the fovea or just outside a dense scotoma. The PRLlo was located in relatively healthy retinal area, and usually below or to the left of the PRLhi in the visual field. Conclusions. In the visual system, two well- defined PRLs can developed when visual function is adapting to maculopathy, with the use of each depending on the brightness of objects used in visual tasks. Rehabilitation and treatment strategies should consider the existence of multiple PRLs.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1812-1818
Number of pages7
JournalInvestigative Ophthalmology and Visual Science
Issue number9
StatePublished - Aug 1997


  • Illuminance
  • Low vision
  • Macular scotoma
  • Preferred retinal locus (PRL)
  • Scanning laser ophthalmoscope (SLO)

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ophthalmology
  • Sensory Systems
  • Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience


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