April 2009
Volume 50, Issue 13
ARVO Annual Meeting Abstract  |   April 2009
Does Phytoestrogen Consumption Affect Vision?
Author Affiliations & Notes
  • A. Eisner
    Casey Eye Institute, Oregon Health & Science University, Portland, Oregon
  • S. Demirel
    Devers Eye Institute, Legacy Health System, Portland, Oregon
  • Footnotes
    Commercial Relationships  A. Eisner, None; S. Demirel, None.
  • Footnotes
    Support  NIH Grant EY014594 and an unrestricted grant from Research to Prevent Blindness
Investigative Ophthalmology & Visual Science April 2009, Vol.50, 5335. doi:
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      A. Eisner, S. Demirel; Does Phytoestrogen Consumption Affect Vision?. Invest. Ophthalmol. Vis. Sci. 2009;50(13):5335.

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

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Purpose: : Previous studies (Eisner & Toomey, Vision Res. 2008) have indicated that reduced estrogen activity can affect vision mediated via short-wavelength-sensitive (SWS) cones. Independently, there is much public-health debate as to whether consuming phytoestrogen-rich foods - mainly soy and flax products - may militate against age-related cognitive decline due to reduced estrogen synthesis. By assessing SWS-cone-mediated vision, an isolatable central nervous system (CNS) pathway can be examined non-invasively and quantitatively, and might ultimately be used to mark other CNS changes that result from estrogen reduction but that may be delayed by phytoestrogen consumption.

Methods: : Subjects were 44 healthy amenorrheic women (48-69 years). Age-corrected visual field sensitivities were obtained using Short Wavelength Automated Perimetry (SWAP) and conventional white-on-white (W/W) perimetry, in each case using standard 200 msec stimuli. SWS-cone-mediated sensitivities were measured at the fovea in Maxwellian View (1.5 Hz square-wave modulation). Half the subjects reported consuming soy and/or flax products, and half reported not consuming these products. For 15 subjects, the foveal critical flicker frequency (CFF) was measured for SWS-cone-mediated response at 0.5 log units above threshold, to assess temporal resolution.

Results: : Overall, the degree to which SWAP sensitivity decreased with retinal eccentricity was significantly less for soy/flax consumers than non-consumers, even when compared to the W/W data. However, this effect depended significantly on age, with the between-group differences being greatest for the youngest subjects. At the fovea, the SWS-cone-mediated sensitivities of the soy/flax consumers were significantly lower that those of the non-consumers after age adjustment in an Analysis of Covariance, possibly because the significantly poorer temporal resolution of the soy/flax non-consumers corresponded to longer temporal integration periods. This suggestion is supported by the observation that the CFF values and foveal sensitivity levels correlated inversely (r = -.54, p = .036).

Conclusions: : The results suggest that consumption of soy and/or flax products may delay the onset of age-related functional loss (response slowing) within a CNS pathway that is readily assessable. Future studies directly measuring phytoestrogen exposures are warranted.

Keywords: nutritional factors • aging • visual fields 

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