April 2009
Volume 50, Issue 13
ARVO Annual Meeting Abstract  |   April 2009
Macular Pigment Reduces Visual Discomfort
Author Affiliations & Notes
  • D. M. Snodderly
    Nutritional Sci, University of Texas at Austin, Austin, Texas
  • J. M. Stringham
    Northrop Grumman Information Technology, San Antonio, Texas
  • Footnotes
    Commercial Relationships  D.M. Snodderly, None; J.M. Stringham, None.
  • Footnotes
    Support  Gustavus and Louise Pfeiffer Research Foundation, and Fight for Sight, Research to Prevent Blindness America (PD04042)
Investigative Ophthalmology & Visual Science April 2009, Vol.50, 1702. doi:
  • Views
  • Share
  • Tools
    • Alerts
      This feature is available to authenticated users only.
      Sign In or Create an Account ×
    • Get Citation

      D. M. Snodderly, J. M. Stringham; Macular Pigment Reduces Visual Discomfort. Invest. Ophthalmol. Vis. Sci. 2009;50(13):1702.

      Download citation file:

      © ARVO (1962-2015); The Authors (2016-present)

  • Supplements

Purpose: : To determine the effect of macular pigment (MP) on the threshold of visual discomfort in young subjects with a wide range of MP levels.

Methods: : A Maxwellian-view optical system was used. Six young (< 35 yrs.), normal subjects with a wide range of MP densities (0.10-0.71 at 30’ eccentricity) viewed monochromatic disks of light centrally, and parafoveally (7º temporal retina). The psychophysical method of ascending limits was employed to determine discomfort thresholds at each wavelength. After extensive training, subjects were instructed to determine the point at which the intensity of the stimulus produced discomfort sufficient to make it difficult to view the light without an aversive response (e.g., squinting or averting the eyes). Discomfort thresholds were also obtained for xenon-white light (partially absorbed by MP), and a broadband yellow (outside the absorption band of MP). Spatial profiles of MP were measured psychophysically using heterochromatic flicker photometry (HFP). Individual lens densities were determined by subtracting subjects’ scotopic sensitivity to lights of 410, 440, and 560 nm from the corresponding rhodopsin extinction coefficients.

Results: : For the central viewing condition, MP significantly reduced visual discomfort thresholds for short wavelengths (440-500 nm), compared to the parafoveal viewing condition. This reduction was commensurate with a subject’s MP level. For the parafovea, a monotonic increase in discomfort sensitivity (1 / threshold) with decreasing wavelength was found for all subjects. In a linear fashion, subjects with higher MP levels were shown to tolerate more xenon-white relative to broadband yellow before reaching photophobia threshold.

Conclusions: : Short-wave lights produced the greatest visual discomfort, and centrally-viewed light was roughly twice uncomfortable as light imaged on the parafovea. MP strongly attenuates visual discomfort. Taken together, these findings indicate that the spectral absorption properties and spatial distribution of MP are well suited to increase the range of comfortable visual operation for the central retina, thereby facilitating visual performance.

Keywords: macular pigment • nutritional factors • visual acuity 

This PDF is available to Subscribers Only

Sign in or purchase a subscription to access this content. ×

You must be signed into an individual account to use this feature.