An accidental discovery, an aging population, a new approach to healthcare – this is the story of MacuLogix
Gregory R. Jackson | | Longer Read
Phoebe Harkin interviews Greg Jackson
In 1993, Greg Jackson was a graduate student at the University of Alabama at Birmingham. He was working in a laboratory with Cynthia Owsley, a pioneer in research on contrast sensitivity and driving – famous for her work into how vision changes with age. Owsley had become interested in night vision in older adults and passed the project on to Jackson. “As no one thought much of it back then, it was a perfect topic for a graduate student. I couldn’t mess it up – or so it seemed!” says Jackson. There wasn’t much information available on the subject: they knew that night vision worsened with age because of aging-related changes in the eye’s optics, but it was unknown as to whether or not the retina was partly responsible for senescence of night vision. They started to investigate dark adaptation – the ability to adjust to darkness. “If you think about visual acuity as a proxy measure for daytime vision, dark adaptation is a proxy measurement for the ease or difficulty in which a person sees at night,” explains Jackson, whose doctoral dissertation topic explored whether older adults had decreased ability to adjust to darkness because of senescence of the retina. To measure dark adaptation, you can present a flash of light to the eye and then repeatedly measure light sensitivity. Over time, the eye will detect progressively dimmer lights – much like how one can see progressively see fainter stars in the night sky. Notably, a young person’s recovery time is significantly faster than an adult over the age of 60.
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