Antioxidant Status and Risk of Age-Related Maculopathy

Elizabeth Johnson, PhD Tufts University

Project Details

Oxidative stress is high in the eye due to the lifelong exposure to light and the high rate of oxidative metabolism in the retina. Researchers believe that cumulative oxidative damage may play a role in the pathogenesis of age-related maculopathy (ARM). Lutein and zeaxanthin are carotenoids (plant pigments) that selectively accumulate in the macula part of the retina, where they become major components of macular pigment. Lutein and zeaxanthin are also known to function as antioxidants, and may protect the macula from light-initiated oxidative damage. In this study, Dr. Johnson is measuring the retina's antioxidant capacity in relation to individual carotenoids, including lutein and zeaxanthin, and the markers of inflammation. This data will then be evaluated in relation to existing data on macular pigment, body mass index and the presence of ARM in patients. It is hoped that the measurement of antioxidant capacity and carotenoid status will prove useful in assessing the risk of ARM and in increasing our understanding of ARM pathophysiology.