The Effects of Age, Refractive Status, and Luminance on Pupil Size

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Pupil size is critical for optimal performance of presbyopic contact lenses. Although the effect of luminance is well known, little information is available regarding other contributing factors such as aging and refractive status.


The cohort population comprised 304 patients (127 male, 177 female) aged 18 to 78 years. Pupils were photographed at three controlled luminance levels 250, 50, and 2.5 cd/m2 using an infra-red macro video camera. Measurements of pupil diameter were conducted after transforming pixel values to linear values in millimeters.


Luminance was the most influential factor with pupil diameter increasing with decreased luminance (p < 0.001, all comparisons). Age was also found to be a significant factor with a smaller diameter in the older groups, but overall the difference was only significant between the pre-presbyopes and the established presbyopes (p = 0.017). Pupil diameter decreased significantly with increasing age, the effect being most marked at low luminance (<0.001). The smallest pupil diameters were measured for hyperopes and the largest for myopes and although refractive error was not a significant factor alone, there was a significant interaction between luminance and refractive error with the greatest differences in pupil diameter between myopes and emmetropes at low luminance (p < 0.001). Pupil diameter changes modeled by multilinear regression (p < 0.001) identified age, luminance, best sphere refraction, and refractive error as significant factors accounting for just over 70% of the average variation in pupil diameter.


Both age and refractive status were found to affect pupil size with larger pupils measured for younger patients and myopes. Designs for multifocal contact lens corrections should take both age and refractive status into consideration; a faster progression from distance to near corrections across the optical zone of the lens is expected to be required for established presbyopes and hyperopes than it is for early presbyopes, myopes, and emmetropes.

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