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Billy R. Hammond, Mary Caruso–Avery; Macular Pigment Optical Density in a Southwestern Sample. Invest. Ophthalmol. Vis. Sci. 2000;41(6):1492-1497.
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purpose. Increasing evidence implicates macular pigment in protecting the retina
and retinal pigment epithelium from light-initiated oxidative damage.
Little information, however, is available regarding “average”
levels of macular pigment in the general population. This study was
designed to assess macular pigment in a high-light environment and to
determine what personal characteristics influence macular pigment
density in that sample.
methods. Macular pigment optical density was measured psychophysically using a
1°, 460-nm test stimulus. Personal data were collected using a
results. 217 subjects (79 men, 138 women) were recruited from the Phoenix
metropolitan area (age range = 17–92 years). The average macular
pigment density was 0.22 ± 0.13. There was a slight tendency for
macular pigment density in this sample to decline with age (r =−
0.14, P < 0.02). Average macular pigment density
was significantly lower in women versus men (P <
0.05), lower in individuals with light-colored irises versus
dark-colored irises (P < 0.009), and lower in
heavy smokers compared to light (P < 0.0045) and
never (P < 0.034) smokers.
conclusions. Macular pigment density was lower than average levels obtained from the
Northeast but similar to average values obtained in a recent study of
adults recruited from Indianapolis. Consistent with past studies, MP
density was 13% lower in women and 18% lower in individuals with
light- versus dark-colored irises. The relation of smoking to macular
pigment density was only significant for those current smokers who
smoked more than 10 cigarettes per day (about a 25% reduction). The
large number of individuals in this sample with low macular pigment
density motivates the need for population-based assessment of the
possibly poor nutritional state of the average American’s
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