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New rarebit vision test captures macular deficits hidden to acuity tests

Journal article
Authors Christina Winther
Lars Frisén
Published in Acta Ophthalmologica
Volume 93
Issue 5
Pages 481-485
ISSN 1755-375X
Publication year 2015
Published at Institute of Neuroscience and Physiology, Department of Clinical Neuroscience and Rehabilitation
Pages 481-485
Language en
Keywords age-related macular degeneration, macula, macular oedema, rarebit, vision test, visual acuity, AGE-RELATED MACULOPATHY, VISUAL-ACUITY, DEGENERATION, PERIMETRY, Ophthalmology
Subject categories Ophthalmology


PurposeEvaluation of a new personal-computer-based vision test aimed for rapid and accurate assessment of macular conditions such as age-related macular degeneration (AMD). MethodsThe new test depends on segmented digits defined by rarebits, that is, receptive field-size bright dots briefly presented against a dark background. Digit size was fixed at 40x50min of arc. Digit positions were varied at random within a 4.6x3.5-degree test field. There were no fixation demands. The number of rarebits per digit segment could be varied between 3 (the minimum needed for veridical perception) and 128, in 11 preset steps. The test task was to find the smallest rarebit number required to recognize the test digits. Thirty-seven patients with various stages of AMD and 25 control subjects participated in the evaluation, which also included a standard acuity test. ResultsAnalysis of receiver operating characteristics indicated significantly better discrimination by the rarebit test. Rarebit numbers >16 appeared to reliably indicate the presence of oedema. ConclusionThe rarebit test appeared well suited for fine grading of vision in AMD. The simple set-up and the lack of fixation demands made for practicable examinations of short durations. The test is available for free on the Internet.

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