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MPOD test – Macular Pigment Optical Density

MPOD test – Macular Pigment Optical Density

At South Coast Optometry we offer something called MPOD testing but what does that stand for and why is it important?

The MP stands for macular pigment (MP). This is a yellow pigmented spot that is found in the center of the retina known as the macula. Made up of two different carotenoids, lutein and zeaxanthin, the MP plays a critical role in protecting the macula from harmful blue light and in helping to maintain the function of the macula. Think of it as internal “sunglasses” for your eyes.

Macular Pigment Optical Density

The thickness or the density of the MP varies from person to person. The density can also change over time depending on several factors such as aging and lifestyle and dietary choices. There has been several clinical trials and studies that have focused on measuring the MP and have researched how the thickness of it correlates to one’s risk of developing age related macular degeneration (AMD). The research has shown that a low macular pigment optical density (MPOD) is a key risk factor for AMD while a high macular pigment optical density not only reduces one’s risk for AMD but also helps to improve visual performance. For older people vision changes such as better contrast sensitivity, better acuity and reduced glare are just some of the benefits to a high MPOD.

Measuring Macular Pigment Density

How does one know the thickness of their MP? Several different instruments were used in different clinical trials . But now there is a scientifically proven instrument that measures Macular Pigment Optical Density that is available to those who are not in a research study. It is called QuantifEye. According to the company’s description, it uses “ heterochromatic flicker photometry technology that provides accurate and reproducible results.” This simple, non-invasive exam is done in the eye doctor’s office.

Monitoring Macular Pigment Density

The values or score that is used for MPOD ranges from 0 to 1. A low MPOD is in the range of 0 to .21, mid range is .21 to .49 and high range is .5 to 1.0. According to ZeaVsion the company that makes the QuantifEye instrument, the average MPOD in the United States is .35.