Macular pigment: a review of current knowledge

Arch Ophthalmol. 2006 Jul;124(7):1038-45. doi: 10.1001/archopht.124.7.1038.


The existence of the macula lutea of the human retina has been known for more than 200 years. It is established that the xanthophylls lutein and zeaxanthin are responsible for the yellow color. The effect of macular photopigments on blue-light filtration and color perception is well established. It has been postulated that the pigment might serve to reduce chromatic aberration and to improve visual acuity. The antioxidant capabilities of these xanthophylls combined with their ability to trap short-wavelength light may serve to protect the outer retina, retinal pigment epithelium, and choriocapillaris from oxidative damage. Current ideas on the pathophysiology of age-related macular degeneration may be compatible with the proposed function of lutein and zeaxanthin. This review will summarize our knowledge about macular pigment regarding current efforts in research and the epidemiology of age-related eye disease.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Carotenoids / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Macula Lutea / physiopathology*
  • Macular Degeneration / epidemiology
  • Macular Degeneration / physiopathology*
  • Retinal Pigments / physiology*


  • Retinal Pigments
  • Carotenoids