Request for participants in research

Invitation to take part in a vision science research study:

As part of a research study funded by the Macular Society and in association with Ulster University, volunteers affected by age-related macular degeneration, and healthy controls are invited to take part. This study aims to investigate the collection of light in the eye over both space and time in age-related macular disease.

The retina at the back of the eye absorbs light, and contains light sensitive cells and nerve fibres which allow it to do this. Vision is most sensitive in the central part of the retina called the macula. This is because there is a higher number of light sensitive cells and nerve fibres in this area, providing detailed, central vision. Sometimes the macula can become damaged, leading to a loss of this kind of vision. Unfortunately, this occurs in age-related macular degeneration (AMD). This condition can make normal daily living tasks, such as driving and reading difficult. Yet, AMD is one of the leading causes of vision loss worldwide.

Central visual field examination is a type of vision testing increasingly being used in the detection and monitoring of AMD in clinical practice and research. This test involves the patient viewing a central fixation cross and pressing a button to indicate if they have detected white spots of light presented on a grey screen at various pre-selected locations in the visual field. This allows a sensitivity map of the central retina (macula) to be produced. Current visual field tests where spots of light only vary in brightness, are poor at detecting early AMD and monitoring disease progression.

Previous work in other eye diseases has shown that the sensitivity of visual field tests to the damage these diseases cause can be improved by simply changing the size of the spot stimuli used and how long they are presented for on the screen. However, there has been a lack of research of this type in AMD. This study therefore aims to understand how the visual system collects light over both space and time, in AMD compared to healthy controls in order to help inform the design of a clinical test specialized for the detection of AMD. To investigate this, we intend to carry out visual field tests with spot stimuli of varying size and presentation duration in both AMD participants and healthy controls. All measurements performed as part of the study are non-invasive and will be performed by appropriately qualified clinicians.

Expressions of interest in taking part in this study as a healthy control or AMD volunteer, or any questions relating to this research, may be directed to Ms. Aoife Hunter.

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Aoife Hunter BSc MCOptom

Macular Society PhD Student/Optometrist

Email: hunter-a11@ulster.ac.uk   

Tel.: 028 7012 3718