There are large inter-individual differences in pupil size and suppression of melatonin by exposure to light. It has been reported that melatonin suppression by exposure to light increases when pupils are pharmacologically dilated. However, the correlation between normal inter-individual difference in pupil size and melatonin suppression by exposure to light is not clear. Twenty-three healthy male subjects (22.6 ± 2.7 years old) were exposed to light (1000 lx) for 2 h at night. The starting time of exposure to light was set to the ascending phase of melatonin concentration of each subject. Pupil area and saliva melatonin concentration were measured before exposure to light under dim light (15 lx) and during exposure to light. There were large inter-individual differences in melatonin suppression and pupil area. The mean and standard deviation of percentage of melatonin suppression 2 h after exposure to light was 57.2 ± 22.1%. The mean and standard deviation of pupil areas before and 2 h after exposure to light were 30.7 ± 7.9 mm2 and 15.9 ± 4.8 mm2, respectively. The percentage of melatonin suppression by light was positively correlated with pupil area during light exposure (r = 0.525, p < 0.02). Interestingly, it was also correlated with pupil area measured before exposure to light, under dim light (15 lx) (r = 0.658, p < 0.001). These results suggest that inter-individual difference in pupil area positively correlates with melatonin suppression by light and that pupil area under dim light is a predictor of inter-individual differences in melatonin suppression by light.
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