Cataract, macular characteristics and assessing lens opacities

  • Martin R. Smith

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisOphthalmic Doctorate


Age-related macular degeneration and cataract are very common causes of visual impairment in the elderly. Macular pigment optical density is known to be a factor affecting the risk of developing age-related macular degeneration but its behaviour due to light exposure to the retina and the effect of macular physiology on this measurement are not fully understood.
Cataract is difficult to grade in a way which reflects accurately the visual status of the patient. A new technology, optical coherence tomography, which allows a cross sectional slice of the crystalline lens to be imaged has the potential to be able to provide objective measurements of cataract which could be used for grading purposes.
This thesis set out to investigate the effect of cataract removal on macular pigment optical density, the relationship between macular pigment optical density and macular thickness and the relationship between cortical cataract density as measured by optical coherence tomography and other measures of cataract severity.
These investigations found:
1) Macular pigment optical density in a pseudophakic eye is reduced when compared to a fellow eye with age related cataract, probably due to differences in light exposure between the eyes.
2) Lower macular pigment optical density is correlated with thinning of the entire macular area, but not with thinning of the fovea or central macula.
3) Central macular thickness decreases with age.
4) Spectral domain optical coherence tomography can be used to successfully acquire images of the anterior lens cortex which relate well to slit lamp lens sections.
5) Grading of cortical cataract with spectral domain optical coherence tomography instruments using a wavelength of 840nm is not well correlated with other established metrics of cataract severity and is therefore not useful as presented as a grading method for this type of cataract.
Date of Award17 Apr 2014
Original languageEnglish
SupervisorJames Wolffsohn (Supervisor)


  • cortical cataract
  • MPOD
  • macular pigment
  • macular thickness
  • OCT

Cite this