Absolute and estimated values of macular pigment optical density in young and aged Asian participants with or without age-related macular degeneration

BMC Ophthalmol. 2017 Aug 29;17(1):161. doi: 10.1186/s12886-017-0557-5.


Background: Lutein and zeaxanthin are suggested micronutrient supplements to prevent the progression of age-related macular degeneration (AMD), a leading cause of blindness worldwide. To monitor the levels of lutein/zeaxanthin in the macula, macular pigment optical density (MPOD) is measured. A commercially available device (MPSII®, Elektron Technology, Switzerland), using technology based on heterochromatic flicker photometry, can measure both absolute and estimated values of MPOD. However, whether the estimated value is applicable to Asian individuals and/or AMD patients remains to be determined.

Methods: The absolute and estimated values of MPOD were measured using the MPSII® device in 77 participants with a best-corrected visual acuity (BCVA) > 0.099 (logMAR score).

Results: The studied eyes included 17 young (20-29 years) healthy, 26 aged (>50 years) healthy, 18 aged and AMD-fellow, and 16 aged AMD eyes. The mean BCVA among the groups were not significantly different. Both absolute and estimated values were measurable in all eyes of young healthy group. However, absolute values were measurable in only 57.7%, 66.7%, and 43.8%, of the aged healthy, AMD-fellow, and AMD groups, respectively, and 56.7% of the eyes included in the 3 aged groups. In contrast, the estimated value was measurable in 84.6%, 88.9% and 93.8% of the groups, respectively, and 88.3% of eyes in the pooled aged group. The estimated value was correlated with absolute value in individuals from all groups by Spearman's correlation coefficient analyses (young healthy: R2 = 0.885, P = 0.0001; aged healthy: R2 = 0.765, P = 0.001; AMD-fellow: R2 = 0.851, P = 0.0001; and AMD: R2 = 0.860, P = 0.013). Using the estimated value, significantly lower MPOD values were found in aged AMD-related eyes, which included both AMD-fellow and AMD eyes, compared with aged healthy eyes by Student's t-test (P = 0.02).

Conclusions: Absolute, in contrast to estimated, value was measurable in a limited number of aged participants; however, it was correlated with estimated value both in young and aged Asian populations with or without AMD. These results may inform future clinical studies investigating the measurement of MPOD in understanding the role of macular pigments in the pathogenesis of AMD.

Keywords: Age-related macular degeneration; Heterochromatic flicker photometry; Lutein; Macular pigment; Retina; Zeaxanthin.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Asian People*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Lutein / metabolism*
  • Macular Degeneration / metabolism*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Retina / physiology*
  • Young Adult
  • Zeaxanthins / metabolism*


  • Zeaxanthins
  • Lutein