Macular pigment in ophthalmic practice; a survey

  • Ian J. Murray
  • Batul Hassanali
  • David Carden
Basic Science



Macular pigment (MP) might provide some protection against age-related eye disease, and it is now being measured in ophthalmic practice. The purpose of the survey described here was to determine the distribution of MP in a random population of patients in a typical UK ophthalmic practice.


Macular pigment optical density (MPOD) was measured in 56 patients aged 11 to 87 years, mean 52 ± 19, over a 3-month period. Typically, the test requires setting flicker thresholds for a centrally and peripherally viewed blue/green alternating target. Here we describe the results when an age-based estimate of the peripheral value is used, thus avoiding the peripheral setting. In 32 observers, a comparison was made between this and values obtained with the centre and periphery method. Information on smoking habits, iris colour, diabetic status, and ethnicity were recorded.


The overall average MPOD for the population obtained with the centre-only approach for 56 individuals was 0.400 ± 0.165. The centre-only technique was an accurate predictor of values based on centre and peripheral measures, with 95 % limits of agreement of 0.137 OD units. Pearson’s correlation coefficient showed a high correlation between right and left eyes (r = 0.7 (p < 0.001)). There was a small difference between males and females that did not reach statistical significance (r = −0.22). There was a non-statistically significant age-related decline in MPOD in this particular population (r = −0.17). Dark irides were significantly associated with high MPOD (r = 0.28, p < 0.05). MPOD in Type II diabetic patients was 27 % lower than that in non-diabetics (r = 0.29, p < 0.05).


The technique provides similar values of MP optical density to previous reports. As with other HFP-based methods, in a small percentage of older patients, more than one measurement is required before satisfactory results are obtained.


Macular pigment Patient survey Ethnicity Diabetes 



We thank Teresa Tee for helping in the preparation of this paper


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Faculty of Life SciencesUniversity of ManchesterManchesterUK

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