Albino spatial vision as an instance of arrested visual development

Hugh R. Wilson*, Marilyn B. Mets, Stephanie E. Nagy, Amy B. Kressel

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

43 Scopus citations


Adult albinos and human infants share a number of common visual characteristics: both have low grating acuity, both lack a foveal pit (foveal hypoplasia), and both have much lower central cone densities than in the normal adult. We have explored the consequences of these characteristics by measuring both spatial and temporal contrast sensitivity in the central retina and by comparing central and peripheral grating and vernier acuities in two young adult albino subjects. To compensate for nystagmus, horizontally oriented patterns were employed. Both subjects had normal flicker sensitivities, but their central grating and vernier acuities were approximately five times worse than normal. At 10.0° in the inferior visual field, however, vernier and grating acuities were normal for both subjects. Finally, the ratio of grating to vernier acuity in albino central vision fell within the normal foveal range, suggesting that albino central vision does not resemble the adult periphery. These results are consistent with the hypothesis that spatial processing deficiencies in albino central vision are a direct consequence of the increased spacing of their central cones. Our data are comparable to available psychophysical results obtained from infants of approx. 10 months of age, thus suggesting that the albino visual system may represent a case of arrested development.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)979-990
Number of pages12
JournalVision Research
Issue number9
StatePublished - 1988


  • Albino vision
  • Grating acuity
  • Hyperacuity
  • Peripheral vision
  • Visual development

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Sensory Systems
  • Ophthalmology


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