Oct 27 2009
Age-related macular degeneration, a major cause of vision loss, affects millions of older persons
Results of an important new study show that implantation of blue light-filtering intraocular lens (IOLs) at the time of cataract surgery increases a nutritional component of the eye, which may afford protection against the development and/or progression of age-related macular degeneration (AMD). The study, conducted by leading ophthalmology and vision researchers from the Macular Pigment Research Group at the Waterford Institute of Technology, is published in the October 2009 issue of the high impact journal Investigative Ophthalmology & Visual Science (IOVS).
AMD is a disease affecting the central part of the retina and is the leading cause of vision loss in the developed world. Implantation of lenses that do not filter blue light during cataract surgery has been shown to increase the risk for development and/or progression of AMD.
"Blue light-filtering lenses filter and block damaging blue light from reaching the retina, which holds the potential of reducing vision loss and improving the quality of life for millions of older patients," said the study's chief investigator, John M. Nolan, Fulbright Scholar, BSc, PhD, deputy director, Macular Pigment Research Group, Waterford Institute of Technology, Waterford, Ireland. "These data represent an important first step in fully realizing the benefits of blue light-filtering in improving a nutritional component of the eye known as macular pigment. There is a strong scientific rationale supported by an ever-growing body of scientific evidence which suggests that macular pigment plays a role in reducing the onset and progression of AMD."
Dr. Nolan and fellow Macular Pigment Research Group researchers discovered an increase in macular pigment levels shortly after cataract surgery among the study patients who had blue light-filtering IOLs implanted.
"Since prolonged exposure to blue light is harmful to the retina, increased levels of macular pigment are considered a strong surrogate marker for protection against the processes that cause age-related blindness, including AMD," says Dr. Nolan.
According to the study, the potential benefits associated with increased macular pigment resulting from the use of blue light-filtering lenses for prevention and/or decreased progression of AMD would be conferred at the time of cataract surgery and are expected to continue thereafter, over a patient's lifetime. This is especially meaningful in the modern era of cataract surgery, which is being performed annually in millions of older persons who live for many years after the procedure, as well as certain patient subgroups, who have had the surgery at an earlier age. The researchers note that further studies are needed to confirm the clinical benefit of their findings.
Source: Cooney Waters Group, Inc.