Comparison of macular pigment in patients with age-related macular degeneration and healthy control subjects – a study using spectral fundus reflectance


Leopold Schmetterer
Department of Clinical Pharmacology
Währinger Gürtel 18-20
A-1090, Vienna
Tel: +43 1 40400 2981
Fax: +43 1 40400 2998


Purpose:  Previous studies have reported an age-dependent decline of macular pigment optical density (MPOD) as well as a relative lack of MPOD in age-related macular degeneration (AMD). Results are, however, strongly dependent on the technique used. In this study, we investigated the age dependence of MPOD using spectral fundus reflectance. In addition, we hypothesized that patients with AMD have a reduced MPOD as compared to healthy controls.

Methods:  A total of 85 healthy subjects and 96 patients with AMD were included in this study. The healthy control subjects showed a wide range of ages (mean, 51.6 years; range, 21–79 years). Patients with AMD were significantly older (mean, 71.2 years; range, 50–89 years). Spectral fundus reflectance of the fovea was measured in a 2.3° detection field with a custom built fundus reflectometer. Calculation of MPOD was based on a previously published fundus reflectance model.

Results:  Patients with AMD showed a reduced MPOD (0.35 ± 0.12) as compared to the healthy control group (0.39 ± 0.12, p = 0.013 between groups). No age dependence of MPOD (r = −0.14, p = 0.19) was found in the healthy control group. In the AMD group, however, MPOD declined with age (r = −0.24, p = 0.019).

Conclusions:  This study indicates that MPOD is reduced in patients with AMD. In addition, the data of this study indicate that MPOD is age dependent in AMD patients, but not in healthy controls. Taken together with data indicating that lutein supplementation increases MPOD, this provides a rationale for supplementation of the macular pigments in patients with AMD, although long-term clinical outcome data are lacking.