Did you know that our eyes have internal “sunglasses?” This yellow pigmented spot, known as the macular pigment, is located in the center of the retina and is called the macula. Macular pigment is made up of two carotenoids, lutein and zeaxanthin, and it protects the macular. The macular is the central and most sensitive part of the retina located at the back of the eye. Macular pigment acts as an anti-oxidant and protects the retina from the potentially damaging effects of blue light. Macular pigment also helps the macula function in other ways.
The most essential job that macular pigment does is protect the eyes from a disabling disease called age related macular degeneration (AMD). People with macular degeneration experience severely distorted vision, have difficulty reading, are unable to drive, and can even have trouble recognizing faces. Eventually the condition can lead to total blindness.To protect the eyes from AMD, the eyes need to contain a certain amount of macular pigment. If the thickness, or density of the macular pigment diminishes, then the retina is more vulnerable to developing AMD.
The thickness or the density of the macular pigment varies from person to person. The density can also change over time depending on several factors, including aging, lifestyle, and diet. There have been several clinical trials and studies that measuring how the thickness of the macular pigment correlates to a patient’s risk of developing AMD. The research has shown that low macular pigment optical density is a key risk factor for AMD. The studies also showed that a high macular pigment optical density not only reduces one’s risk for AMD, but also helps improve vision in significant ways. Patients with dense macular pigment have better contrast sensitivity, better acuity and reduced glare in their eyesight.
Measuring Macular Pigment Density
There is now new technology available which measures macular pigment density. The Macular Pigment Densitometer can detect low levels of macular pigment. A macular screening assessment is non invasive, easy and painless, and takes less than 10 minutes to perform. A patient looks into the instrument, one eye at a time, and sees a flickering light. After a few moments the test is complete, and measurements of the density of the macular pigment are available for you and your eye doctor to review. If your macular pigment density is low, your eye doctor will discuss options for increasing the thickness of the macular pigment.
Call today to schedule this important test.