Low levels of lutein and zeaxanthin in the diet have been shown to be associated with an increased risk of Macular Degeneration. These are two of the three carotenoids which comprise the macular protective pigment. The third carotenoid, meso-zeaxanthin, is not a part of our diet. It is created in the center of the macula from lutein, but may be deficient due to an inability to produce it. Studies using autopsy eyes, as well as studies of Macular Degeneration subjects, point to an increased risk when a person's macular protective pigment level is low. There are reasons why these associations might be expected. The macular protective pigment is only accumulated in photoreceptor axons of the central macula. They screen the vulnerable tissue below from the damaging effects of high energy blue light. Lutein, zeaxanthin, and meso-zeaxanthin are also potent antioxidants, which may be their primary function in photoreceptor outer segments.
Heterochromatic Flicker Photometry
The MacuScope™ is a "heterochromatic flicker photometer" - the gold standard for measuring macular protective pigment density (MPPD). Through a brief test, it provides the optical density (absorbance) of the patient's macular protective pigment, a quantity that is proportional to the pigment concentration.
The MacuScope™ is technology that enables we identify which patients are at risk for Macular Degeneration at the point-of-care. It measures Macular Protective Pigment Density (MPPD) — low MPPD is a major, modifiable risk factor for Macular Degeneration.
Macular Degeneration is the leading cause of vision loss for people over the age of 50 in the Western world. Currently affecting more than 30 million people worldwide, it is expected that this number will triple in the next 20 years. Macular Protective Pigment can protect patients from Macular Degeneration. It is the layer of carotenoids that filters out damaging blue light and neutralizes harmful free radicals. Early detection and monitoring of MPPD, prior to symptoms occurring, is critical to preserving your patient's vision.