The effect of age-related macular degeneration on components of face perception

Andrew J. Logan*, Gael E. Gordon, Gunter Loffler

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Citations (Scopus)
125 Downloads (Pure)


PURPOSE. Patients with age-related macular degeneration (AMD) experience difficulty with discriminating between faces. We aimed to use a new clinical test to quantify the impact of AMD on face perception and to determine the specific aspects that are affected. METHODS. The Caledonian face test uses an adaptive procedure to measure face discrimination thresholds: the minimum difference required between faces for reliable discrimination. Discrimination thresholds were measured for full-faces, external features (head-shape and hairline), internal features (nose, mouth, eyes, and eyebrows) and shapes (non-face task). Participants were 20 patients with dry AMD (logMAR VA = 0.14 to 0.62), 20 patients with wet AMD (0.10 to 0.60), and 20 age-matched control subjects (−0.18 to +0.06). RESULTS. Relative to controls, full-face discrimination thresholds were, on average, 1.76 and 1.73 times poorer in participants with dry and wet AMD, respectively. AMD also reduced sensitivity to face features, but discrimination of the internal, relative to external, features was disproportionately impaired. Both distance VA and contrast sensitivity were significant independent predictors of full-face discrimination thresholds (R2 = 0.66). Sensitivity to full-faces declined by a factor of approximately 1.19 per 0.1 logMAR reduction in VA. CONCLUSIONS. Both dry and wet AMD significantly reduce sensitivity to full-faces and their component parts to similar extents. Distance VA and contrast sensitivity are closely associated with face discrimination sensitivity. These results quantify the extent of sensitivity impairment in patients with AMD and predict particular difficulty in everyday tasks that rely on internal feature information, including recognition of familiar faces and facial expressions.

Original languageEnglish
Article number38
Number of pages12
JournalInvestigative Ophthalmology & Visual Science
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 16 Jun 2020


  • face perception
  • age-related macular degeneration
  • clinical tests
  • visual impairment
  • face features

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ophthalmology
  • Sensory Systems
  • Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience


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