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A T Liem, J E Keunen, D van Norren, J van de Kraats; Rod densitometry in the aging human eye.. Invest. Ophthalmol. Vis. Sci. 1991;32(10):2676-2682.
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Retinal densitometry is a noninvasive physiologic technique used to examine the visual pigments in living human eyes. To assess possible age-related disturbances of rod photopigment kinetics, retinal densitometry was done in 44 eyes of 44 healthy subjects (age range, 12-78 yr). With progressing age, a significant but small increase in photopigment density difference (bleached versus dark adapted eye) and an increase in the time constant of rhodopsin regeneration was found. The increased density difference in rods was consistent with morphologic findings of increased rod outer segment diameter and disc content in older subjects. To explain this change in terms of the decreased specular reflections at the level of the inner limiting membrane was inadequate because age effects were independent of wavelength in the region of 450-550 nm. To control for the effects of ocular stray light from the lens, subjects older than 40 yr with a clear crystalline lens were measured and compared with those with pseudophakia. No statistically significant difference was found between the two groups. Increased rod density difference contrasts sharply with an earlier reported decrease in this parameter for foveal cones. The slowing of the regeneration rate is a phenomenon common to rods and cones. It may be a result of a gradual metabolic dysfunction of the retinal pigment epithelium in older subjects.
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