May 2006
Volume 47, Issue 13
ARVO Annual Meeting Abstract  |   May 2006
Established Risk Factors for Age–Related Maculopathy Are Associated With a Relative Lack of Macular Pigment in Healthy Subjects
Author Affiliations & Notes
  • J.M. Nolan
    Ophthalmology, Medical College of Georgia, Augusta, GA
  • J. Stack
    Physical and Quantitative Sciences,
    Waterford Institute of Technology, Waterford, Ireland
  • J. Mellerio
    School of Biosciences, University of Westminster, London, United Kingdom
  • O. O' Donovan
    Chemical and Life sciences,
    Waterford Institute of Technology, Waterford, Ireland
  • S. Beatty
    Ophthalmology, Waterford Regional Hospital, Waterford, Ireland
  • Footnotes
    Commercial Relationships  J.M. Nolan, None; J. Stack, None; J. Mellerio, None; O. O' Donovan, None; S. Beatty, None.
  • Footnotes
    Support  Fighting Blindness Ireland
Investigative Ophthalmology & Visual Science May 2006, Vol.47, 3799. doi:
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      J.M. Nolan, J. Stack, J. Mellerio, O. O' Donovan, S. Beatty; Established Risk Factors for Age–Related Maculopathy Are Associated With a Relative Lack of Macular Pigment in Healthy Subjects . Invest. Ophthalmol. Vis. Sci. 2006;47(13):3799.

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

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Purpose: : Age–related maculopathy (ARM), which may damage central vision, is the leading cause of severe visual impairment in elderly white populations in the Western World. Although the aetiopathogenesis of this disease remains unclear, there is a growing, and plausible, consensus that cumulative blue light damage and/or oxidative stress play a role. Macular pigment (MP) is a blue light filter and a powerful antioxidant, and is therefore believed to protect against ARM. This study was undertaken to investigate the relationship between MP optical density (MPOD) and risk for ARM in 828 healthy subjects.

Methods: : MPOD was measured psychophysically using heterochromatic flicker photometry. Clinical and personal details were recorded, with particular attention directed towards established and putative risk factors for ARM.

Results: : We report a statically significant age–related decline in MPOD (Pearson correlation: r = – 0.286, p < 0.01), which persisted after correcting for known confounding variables [Partial correlation: r = – 0.245, p < 0.01]. Also, current and past smokers had lower average MPOD (mean ± SD) [0.268 (± 0.162) and 0.290 (± 0.166), respectively] than never smokers [0.315 (± 0.171)], and this difference was statistically significant (One–way ANOVA: p < 0.01). Finally, subjects with a confirmed family history of ARM had significantly lower levels of MPOD than subjects with no known family history of disease [0.219 (± 0.153) vs. 0.322 (± 0.166), respectively] (Independent samples t–test: p < 0.01)

Conclusions: : In the absence of retinal pathology, the relative lack of MP associated with increasing age, tobacco use and family history of ARM supports the hypothesis that the macular carotenoids may be protective for this condition.

Keywords: macular pigment • age-related macular degeneration • oxidation/oxidative or free radical damage 

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