Background: There is increasing circumstantial evidence that the chemical composition of the deposits in Bruch's membrane influences the clinical outcome in age-related macular disease. In particular, it has been postulated that deposition of neutral lipids in Bruch's membrane may cause hydrophobicity and predispose to detachment of the retinal pigment epithelium and cause functional loss.
Methods: Analysis of the lipid extracted from Bruch's membrane of eye bank eyes from donors of different ages has been undertaken using thin layer and gas chromatography. No clinical information was available concerning any previous eye disease.
Results: It is shown that the lipid extracted increases with the age of the donor, and that the total quantity and ratio of neutral fats to phospholipids varies widely from one specimen to another from donors older than 60 years of age. The ratios of the different phospholipids imply that they are not derived from blood.
Conclusion: The results are compatible with the concept of hydrophobicity developing with age in Bruch's membrane.