PROVIDENCE, R.I. -- A new device to measure macular pigment in the human eye will improve research opportunities into the correlation between pigment levels and macular degeneration, the leading cause of blindness in the world for persons over 60, according to its Brown University designer.
The small tabletop device uses light-emitting diodes (LEDs) to measure macular pigment, a yellowish substance in the eye that may protect the eye from the destructive effects of light, according to Bill R. Wooten, professor of psychology, who designed the instrument called the macular densitometer.
Wooten recently found no significant difference between the accuracy of the new device and an existing machine in a study of 30 subjects, ranging in age from 16 to 60. Those results are published in the October issue of Investigative Ophthalmology & Visual Science.
However, unlike traditional machines that rely on complex optical systems to measure macular pigment, the new device is not difficult to assemble or move and can be operated by someone without any expertise, said Wooten.
A patient looks directly into the machine and adjusts a flickering light until it stops flickering, then repeats the process with a flickering light in peripheral vision. By comparing the two measurements, researchers can determine how much light is absorbed by the macular pigment and therefore how much macular pigment a patient has, said Wooten. The whole process takes about 10 minutes.
"We know that macular pigment varies a lot from person to person," said Wooten. "What is unknown is the cause-and-effect relation between the amount of macular pigment and macular degeneration."
Research by Wooten and his colleagues has shown several correlations
between levels of macular pigment
and macular degeneration in specific situations. These correlations have
been documented w
Contact: Kristen Cole