Fang Hou, Luis Lesmes, Woojae Kim, Hairong Gu, Mark Pitt, Jay Myung, and Zhong-Lin Lu


The contrast sensitivity function (CSF) has shown promise as a functional vision endpoint for monitoring the changes in functional vision that accompany eye disease or its treatment. However, detecting CSF changes with precision and efficiency at both the individual and group levels is very challenging. By exploiting the Bayesian foundation of the quick CSF method (Lesmes, Lu, Baek, & Albright, 2010), we developed and evaluated metrics for detecting CSF changes at both the individual and group levels. A 10-letter identification task was used to assess the systematic changes in the CSF measured in three luminance conditions in 112 naïve normal observers. The data from the large sample allowed us to estimate the test–retest reliability of the quick CSF procedure and evaluate its performance in detecting CSF changes at both the individual and group levels. The test–retest reliability reached 0.974 with 50 trials. In 50 trials, the quick CSF method can detect a medium 0.30 log unit area under log CSF change with 94.0% accuracy at the individual observer level. At the group level, a power analysis based on the empirical distribution of CSF changes from the large sample showed that a very small area under log CSF change (0.025 log unit) could be detected by the quick CSF method with 112 observers and 50 trials. These results make it plausible to apply the method to monitor the progression of visual diseases or treatment effects on individual patients and greatly reduce the time, sample size, and costs in clinical trials at the group level.