Individual Differences in the Post-Illumination Pupil Response to Blue Light: Assessment without Mydriatics

Jessica Bruijel, Wisse P van der Meijden, Denise Bijlenga, Farangis Dorani, Joris E Coppens, Bart H W Te Lindert, Sandra Kooij, Eus J W Van Someren

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Melanopsin-containing retinal ganglion cells play an important role in the non-image forming effects of light, through their direct projections on brain circuits involved in circadian rhythms, mood and alertness. Individual differences in the functionality of the melanopsin-signaling circuitry can be reliably quantified using the maximum post-illumination pupil response (PIPR) after blue light. Previous protocols for acquiring PIPR relied on the use of mydriatics to dilate the light-exposed eye. However, pharmacological pupil dilation is uncomfortable for the participants and requires ophthalmological expertise. Hence, we here investigated whether an individual's maximum PIPR can be validly obtained in a protocol that does not use mydriatics but rather increases the intensity of the light stimulus. In 18 participants (5 males, mean age ± SD: 34.6 ± 13.6 years) we evaluated the PIPR after exposure to intensified blue light (550 µW/cm²) provided to an undilated dynamic pupil. The test-retest reliability of the primary PIPR outcome parameter was very high, both between day-to-day assessments (Intraclass Correlation Coefficient (ICC) = 0.85), as well as between winter and summer assessments (ICC = 0.83). Compared to the PIPR obtained with the use of mydriatics and 160 µW/cm² blue light exposure, the method with intensified light without mydriatics showed almost zero bias according to Bland-Altman plots and had moderate to strong reliability (ICC = 0.67). In conclusion, for PIPR assessments, increasing the light intensity is a feasible and reliable alternative to pupil dilation to relieve the participant's burden and to allow for performance outside the ophthalmological clinic.

Original languageEnglish
Article number34
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 9 Sept 2016


  • Intrinsically photosensitive retinal ganglion cells
  • Journal Article
  • Light
  • Melanopsin
  • Post-illumination pupil response
  • Pupil
  • Pupil dilation

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