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Investigative Ophthalmology and Visual Science, 2009, 50, pp. 4777-4785. doi:10.1167/iovs.08-3277


PURPOSE. (Photo)-oxidative stress is believed to play a role in the pathogenesis of age-related macular degeneration (AMD), with the threshold for retinal damage being lowest for short-wavelength (blue) light. Macular pigment (MP), consisting of the carotenoids lutein (L), zeaxanthin (Z) and meso-Z, has a maximum absorption at 460 nm and protects the retina from (photo)-oxidative injury. This study was designed to investigate whether the blue light–filtering properties of the Alcon AcrySof Natural intraocular lens (ANIOL) implanted during cataract surgery affects MP optical density (MPOD). METHODS. Forty-two patients scheduled for cataract surgery were recruited for the study. These patients all had a preoperative best corrected visual acuity rating (BCVAR) of at least 0.5 (logMAR) in the study eye. The patients were randomized to have either the standard Alcon AcrySof three-piece acrylic intraocular lens (AIOL) (controls) or the ANIOL implanted at the time of cataract surgery. The spatial profile of MPOD (i.e., at 0.25°, 0.5°, 1.0°, and 1.75° eccentricity) was measured with customized heterochromatic flicker photometry (cHFP) 1 week before and 1 week after surgery, and at 3, 6, and 12 months after surgery. Serum concentrations of L and Z were also measured at each study visit. RESULTS. There was a highly significant and positive correlation between all MPODs (e.g., at 0.25°) recorded 1 week before and after surgery in eyes with an AIOL implant (r = 0.915, P < 0.01; paired samples t-test, P = 0.631) and in those ANIOL implants (r = 0.868, P < 0.01; paired samples t-test, P = 0.719). Average MPOD across the retina increased significantly with time (after 3 months) in the ANIOL group (repeated-measures, general linear model, P < 0.05), but remained stable in the AIOL group (repeated-measures, general linear model, P > 0.05). There were no significant time or lens effects observed for serum L over the study period (P > 0.05). There was a significant time effect for serum Z over the study period (P < 0.05), but not a significant time/lens interaction (P > 0.05). CONCLUSIONS. Customized HFP can reliably measure the MPOD spatial profile in the presence of lens opacity, and cataract surgery does not artifactually alter MPOD readings. This study also provides evidence that implanting an IOL that filters blue light is associated with augmentation of MPOD in the absence of raised serum concentrations of L and Z. However, further and longitudinal study is needed to assess whether the observed increase in MPOD after implantation of blue-filtering IOLs is associated with reduced risk of AMD development and/or progression.