The macular pigment. II. Spatial distribution in primate retinas

Invest Ophthalmol Vis Sci. 1984 Jun;25(6):674-85.


The spatial density distribution of macular pigment in primate retinas was described by two-wavelength microdensitometry of retinal sections. The macular pigment is most dense along the path of the receptor axons in the center of the fovea. Another band of high density is present in the inner plexiform layer in many retinas. The density in both fiber layers declines to low, relatively constant levels within 1 mm eccentricity. Both the total retinal density of macular pigment and the contributions of subsets of the retinal layers were estimated by integrating along the path of light traversing the retina from the vitreal surface to the outer segments. The integrated densities were measured at several eccentricities to establish the profile of macular pigment density along a diameter through the fovea. The macular pigment profile was unimodal in some cases and trimodal in others. The main central peak always occurred in the center of the fovea. The total retinal density of the central peak ranged from 0.42-1.0 absorbance. Most of the pigment is interposed between the outer segments and the stimulating light and is effective as a visual filter. The macular pigment is dichroic, with the major axis of absorption oriented tangential to a circle centered on the fovea. This is consistent with commonly accepted explanations of Haidinger 's brushes.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cebus
  • Densitometry*
  • Macaca
  • Macula Lutea / metabolism*
  • Retinal Pigments / metabolism*


  • Retinal Pigments