The effects of light adaptation on the increment threshold, rhodopsin content, and dark adaptation have been studied in the rat eye over a wide range of intensities. The electroretinogram threshold was used as a measure of eye sensitivity. With adapting intensities greater than 1.5 log units above the absolute ERG threshold, the increment threshold rises linearly with increasing adapting intensity. With 5 minutes of light adaptation, the rhodopsin content of the eye is not measurably reduced until the adapting intensity is greater than 5 log units above the ERG threshold. Dark adaptation is rapid (i.e., completed in 5 to 10 minutes) until the eye is adapted to lights strong enough to bleach a measurable fraction of the rhodopsin. After brighter light adaptations, dark adaptation consists of two parts, an initial rapid phase followed by a slow component. The extent of slow adaptation depends on the fraction of rhodopsin bleached. If all the rhodopsin in the eye is bleached, the slow fall of threshold extends over 5 log units and takes 2 to 3 hours to complete. The fall of ERG threshold during the slow phase of adaptation occurs in parallel with the regeneration of rhodopsin. The slow component of dark adaptation is related to the bleaching and resynthesis of rhodopsin; the fast component of adaptation is considered to be neural adaptation.

This content is only available as a PDF.