PURPOSE: The second eye tested in frequency doubling perimetry has higher thresholds (reduced sensitivity) than the first. The authors investigated how this "second-eye effect" evolves over time and studied systematic changes in threshold in the first eye.
METHODS: Thresholds were measured in four subjects for 5 degrees -square, 0.5-cyc/deg sine wave gratings counterphase-flickered at 18 Hz, using a "method of a thousand staircases" to track changes in thresholds at 10-second intervals. Stimuli appeared in 1 of 5 interleaved horizontal locations. Subjects adapted binocularly (background, 45 cd/m(2)) for 5 minutes before performing a 5-minute test with one eye (the "first eye") followed immediately by the other (the "second eye"). These results were compared with baseline monocular thresholds measured over 3.5 minutes according to a conventional staircase procedure. In addition, two subjects repeated the main experiment with a translucent, rather than opaque, patch.
RESULTS: On average, second-eye thresholds were raised by 6 dB (0.3 log) at the beginning of the test and were reduced to 4 dB toward the end. Little change was observed in the magnitude of the second-eye effect as a function of eccentricity. A significant "first-eye effect" was also observed in which thresholds increased by approximately 2 dB as the first-eye test progressed. Translucent patching largely abolished first- and second-eye effects, indicating neither was the result of fatigue.
CONCLUSIONS: Steady adaptation in both eyes is important for obtaining stable perimetric thresholds. Unless appropriate tests are performed, the effects of adaptation could easily be mistaken for those of fatigue.