Aging and human macular pigment density. Appended with translations from the work of Max Schultze and Ewald Hering

Vision Res. 1987;27(2):257-68. doi: 10.1016/0042-6989(87)90188-x.


The optical density of human macular pigment was measured for 50 observers ranging in age from 10 to 90 years. The psychophysical method required adjusting the radiance of a 1 degree, monochromatic light (400-550 nm) to minimize flicker (15 Hz) when presented in counterphase with a 460 nm standard. This test stimulus was presented superimposed on a broad-band, short-wave background. Macular pigment density was determined by comparing sensitivity under these conditions for the fovea, where macular pigment is maximal, and 5 degrees temporally. This difference spectrum, measured for 12 observers, matched Wyszecki and Stiles's standard density spectrum for macular pigment. To study variation in macular pigment density for a larger group of observers, measurements were made at only selected spectral points (460, 500 and 550 nm). The mean optical density at 460 nm for the complete sample of 50 subjects was 0.39. Substantial individual differences in density were found (ca. 0.10-0.80), but this variation was not systematically related to age.

Publication types

  • Biography
  • Historical Article
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Accommodation, Ocular
  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Aging*
  • Child
  • Color Perception / physiology
  • Female
  • Fixation, Ocular
  • History, 19th Century
  • Humans
  • Macula Lutea / metabolism*
  • Macula Lutea / ultrastructure
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Ophthalmology / history
  • Refraction, Ocular
  • Retinal Pigments / metabolism*
  • Spectrophotometry
  • Translations


  • Retinal Pigments

Personal name as subject

  • M Schultze
  • E Hering