Visual acuity is the gold standard of visual functional measure in many ocular diseases. However, it may not be an effective outcome measure in the treatment for AMD and retinitis pigmentosa (RP), even when the disease is in its advanced stage.
It has been shown that patients with AMD have significant deficits in performing a shape discrimination task, despite retaining normal visual acuity. We are developing a new functional test for AMD based on shape discrimination.
This new test has the potential to be more sensitive than a visual acuity exam in revealing visual function loss in AMD and RP, and can be used routinely by patients or clinicians to screen for, and monitor progression of, retinal degenerative diseases. This will make earlier intervention possible for the treatment of these diseases.
(This study is based on close collaboration with Yizhong Wang, Ph.D., from Southwest Retina Foundation. Dr. Wang is a Ph.D. visual physiologist and part-time Assistant Professor in the Department of Ophthalmology at UT Southwestern Medical Center.)