The macula is a specialised area of the retina that mediates central and colour vision. Three dietary carotenoids, lutein (L), zeaxanthin (Z) and meso-zeaxanthin (MZ), accumulate in the macula, where they are collectively referred to as macular pigment (MP). Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is a disease of the macula that, in its advanced stage, results in a loss of central vision. The light-filtering and antioxidant properties of MP render this pigment important for optimising visual function and protecting against AMD. The current investigation (conducted as part of The Irish Longitudinal Study on Ageing [TILDA]) is the first study to report plasma concentrations of L and Z in a large representative sample of the Irish population. TILDA is a comprehensive study on the health, economic and social status of over 8,000 Irish adults aged 50 years and over. The main focus of this study was to quantify and assess plasma concentrations of L and Z from TILDA participants, and investigate their association with the prevalence of AMD, and non-dietary determinants of these carotenoids. Firstly, the findings from this study indicated that plasma concentrations of L and Z are lower in association with indicators of a poor lifestyle (high BMI, tobacco use, and less physical exercise) and lower education, indicating that modifying lifestyle in a positive way is likely to be reflected in higher concentrations of plasma carotenoids with consequential health benefits. The second part of this study indicated that plasma concentrations of L and Z were significantly higher in association with grading-confirmed presence of AMD and awareness (self-report) of AMD, which is likely due to greater supplement use in these participants. This research will contribute to the existing scientific literature, and will hopefully guide healthcare and medical practice regarding the importance of macular carotenoids for eye health and general wellbeing.
|Publication status||Unpublished - 2017|
- Non-dietary determinants, Lutein, Zeaxanthin