The excitation of the visual system increases with increasing retinal illumination. At the same time, the sensitivity of the system decreases (light adaptation). Higher excitation automatically results in a lower sensitivity. This study investigates whether this antagonistic relationship between excitation and sensitivity also applies to the dynamic case, that is, during the transition to a higher excitation level after a sudden increase in retinal illuminance. For this purpose, the courses of the subjective and the electroretinographic threshold in the transitional period during and after a step of the adaptation illuminance were investigated by means of a special light-stimulation system. The investigation was carried out on 9 (subjective threshold) and 12 (electroretinographic threshold) subjects. As a measure of the course of the excitation during this time, the response ERG on the adaptation step was recorded. With the step in adaptation light, the thresholds show a rapid increase, which starts already about 0.1 s before the step. This is followed, within the next second, by a threshold decrease to a new plateau above the initial level. The comparison between the response ERG on the adaptation step and the course of the electroretinographic increment threshold during this time shows a broad agreement between the two courses. Thus, it can be assumed that the sensitivity of the visual system also follows the excitation in the dynamic case. In addition, the investigation shows that the glare experienced after a step in illuminance apparently shows great subjective differences.
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