Optical density spectra of the macular pigment in vivo and in vitro

Vision Res. 1992 Jan;32(1):105-10. doi: 10.1016/0042-6989(92)90118-3.


A precise relative optical density spectrum of the macular pigment, based upon its dichroic properties, was determined. The spectrum proved essentially identical to that of liposome-bound zeaxanthin and lutein, a system duplicating the macular pigment and its environment. Substantial agreement was also found with the spectra of Wyszecki and Stiles (1982, Color science: Concepts and methods, quantitative data and formulae. New York: Wiley) and Vos (1972, Institute for Perception, RVO-TNO, IZF 1972-17, Soesterberg, The Netherlands), and the latter is recommended as a standard. For 7 subjects, the pigment density spectrum derived from foveal and extra-foveal sensitivities was compared with the dichroism-based spectrum. Results indicated that the pigment is described by a common distribution of molecular orientations for all subjects.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Carotenoids / analogs & derivatives
  • Carotenoids / analysis
  • Color Perception / physiology*
  • Fixation, Ocular
  • Humans
  • Macula Lutea / physiology
  • Mathematics
  • Models, Neurological
  • Retinal Pigments / analysis*
  • Retinal Pigments / physiology
  • Spectrophotometry
  • Xanthophylls
  • Zeaxanthins
  • beta Carotene* / analogs & derivatives*


  • Retinal Pigments
  • Xanthophylls
  • Zeaxanthins
  • beta Carotene
  • Carotenoids