Macular pigment and lutein supplementation in retinitis pigmentosa and Usher syndrome


Aleman TS, Duncan JL, Bieber ML, de Castro E, Marks DA, Gardner LM, et al.




Invest Ophthalmol Vis Sci


PURPOSE. To determine macular pigment (MP) in patients with inherited retinal degeneration and the response of MP and vision to supplementation of lutein. METHODS. Patients with retinitis pigmentosa (RP) or Usher syndrome and normal subjects had MP optical density profiles measured with heterochromatic flicker photometry. Serum carotenoids, visual acuity, foveal sensitivity, and retinal thickness (by optical coherence tomography [OCT]) were quantified. The effects on MP and central vision of 6 months of lutein supplementation at 20 mg/d were determined. RESULTS. MP density in the patients as a group did not differ from normal. Among patients with lower MP, there was a higher percentage of females, smokers, and light-colored irides. Disease expression tended to be more severe in patients with lower MP. Inner retinal thickness by OCT correlated positively with MP density in the patients. After supplementation, all participants showed an increase in serum lutein. Only approximately half the patients showed a statistically significant increase in MP. Retinal nonresponders had slightly greater disease severity but were otherwise not distinguishable from responders. Central vision was unchanged after supplementation. CONCLUSIONS. Factors previously associated with lower or higher MP density in normal subjects showed similar associations in RP and Usher syndrome. In addition, MP in patients may be affected by stage of retinal disease, especially that leading to abnormal foveal architecture. MP could be augmented by supplemental lutein in many but not all patients. There was no change in central vision after 6 months of lutein supplementation, but long-term influences on the natural history of these retinal degenerations require further study.