Researchers are wary of the association between glaucoma and low levels of macular pigment. As their study has challenged that concept, they are left to believe that enrichment of the area, perhaps from supplemental dietary intake of carotenoids, may be important to enhance visual function in patients with glaucoma.

A recent study investigated the association between macular pigment and visual function in 85 individuals with glaucoma with a control cohort of 22. While glaucoma patients had significantly worse standard automated perimetry mean deviation values and lower retinal nerve fiber layer thickness in the study eye compared to control subjects, macular pigment, in terms of pigment, was comparable in the two groups. Researchers did not find that volume of macular pigment was associated with diagnosis of glaucoma either.

The team did identify that that macular pigment was positively and significantly related to dietary intake of macular carotenoids, lutein and zeaxanthin. They believe that the carotenoids’ anatomic, biochemical and optical properties make them ideal candidates to enhance visual function, so macular pigment measurements in glaucoma patients may be useful to evaluate visual function.

Researchers concluded that further research is merited to better understand the relationship between glaucoma and macular carotenoids, as well as the impact of enriching these nutrients in these patients.  

Fábio B. Daga FB, Nara G. Ogata NG, Felipe A. Medeiros FA, et al. Macular pigment and visual function in patients With glaucoma: The San Diego Macular Pigment Study. Invest. Ophthalmol. Vis. Sci. 2018;59(11):4471-4476.