Individual variations in the spatial profile of human macular pigment

J Opt Soc Am A Opt Image Sci Vis. 1997 Jun;14(6):1187-96. doi: 10.1364/josaa.14.001187.


Individual variations in the spatial profile of macular pigment (MP) density were measured for 32 subjects. Peak density of MP measured with a 460-nm, 12-arcmin stimulus averaged 0.58, standard deviation (SD) = 0.26, with a range of 0.175 to 1.39. To assess the symmetry of the MP distribution, MP density was measured on the horizontal and vertical meridians at +/-1 deg eccentricity. The density varied by no more than 16% at these four locations, indicating a basically symmetric distribution. Based on a linear interpolation between measured locations, the width of the spatial distribution of MP at half the maximal density averaged 1.03 deg, SD = 0.38, with a range of 0.25 to 1.9 deg. The average spatial profile of MP density across subjects was fitted with both an exponential and a Gaussian function. An exponential decay with eccentricity explained more variance in the data than did a Gaussian function. Assuming an exponential decay with eccentricity, once MP density has been measured in the center of the retina (denoted A), MP density at more eccentric locations (X, deg) can be predicted with a standardized equation (MP = A x 10(-0.42x)). For individual cases, small deviations from an exponential function suggest the existence of minor flanking peaks or shoulders for 40% of the subjects. We also examined the temporal stability of the MP profile of four subjects over a time span of 4-14 months and for a single spatial location for ten subjects over a time span of 1-16 years. These longitudinal data show that differences in MP density among subjects are maintained over time, if dietary patterns are stable.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Female
  • Forecasting
  • Humans
  • Individuality
  • Macula Lutea / metabolism*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Models, Biological
  • Retinal Pigments / metabolism*
  • Tissue Distribution


  • Retinal Pigments