Sensitivity losses in patients with retinitis pigmentosa (RP) have been attributed to a decrease in photopigment density, to a reduction in the number of photoreceptors, and also to a change in temporal response properties of the receptors. The sensitivity losses in patients with macular degeneration have also been attributed to a loss of photoreceptors. To test these explanations for sensitivity loss we obtained electrophysiological and psychophysical temporal modulation transfer functions (MTFs) on normal subjects in response to varying stimulus luminances and retinal loci. These stimulus manipulations did not duplicate the changes observed in the temporal MTFs of patients. The temporal response properties of the receptors were tested electrophysiologically by manipulating stimulus presentation interval. The results provided evidence for sensitivity losses in RP patients being due to alterations in the temporal response properties of the receptors.
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