Fatty acid composition of the human macula and peripheral retina

Invest Ophthalmol Vis Sci. 1992 Dec;33(13):3493-6.


The fatty acids in the human retina and the macular region were measured quantitatively (mole percent) by gas chromatography. The major fatty acids of the human retina and macula were palmitic, stearic, oleic, arachidonic, and docosahexaenoic. Surprisingly, there was much less docosahexaenoic acid in the macular region (15.9% of total) than in the peripheral retina (22.3% of total). There was a group of "other fatty acids," not any of the five major fatty acids, that were relatively more abundant in the macula (21.0% of total) than in the peripheral retina (10.7% of total). These results indicate that the human macula has a unique biochemical composition, which differs substantially from the peripheral retina. Establishment of the biochemical composition of the macula may be important for helping recognize possible changes associated with diseases such as age-related macular degeneration.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Chromatography, Gas
  • Fatty Acids / analysis*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Macula Lutea / chemistry*
  • Male
  • Retina / chemistry*


  • Fatty Acids