By Derbhile Graham
This article originally appeared in The Irish Medical Times
A study conducted by researchers at Waterford Institute of Technology has found that using filtering lenses in cataract surgery reduces the risk of Age Related Macular Degeneration (AMD).
The researchers at the Macular Pigment Research Group (MPRG) found that implanting lenses which filter out blue light increases the level of protective macular pigment in the eye.
The MPRG’s findings were featured in the October issue of Investigative Ophthalmology and Visual Science, a journal which is recognised as having the highest impact in the field.
During the trial, 42 patients who were due to undergo cataract surgery were implanted with either blue-light filtering or standard intra-ocular lenses (IOL). The density of macular pigment and the concentration of carotenoids were measured before surgery and several times during the following year.
The MPRG has already conducted a number of studies establishing the role of diet in preventing AMD. The recently published CARMA studies show that supplemental lutein and xeazanthin preserves vision in AMD patients.
However, this study has pinpointed the role harmful blue light plays in retinal degeneration and shown that filtering out blue light increases macular pigment levels. Mr Stephen Beatty, consultant ophthalmologist and researcher with the MPRG, believes that the findings of this study add an extra dimension to the group’s work.
“It’s unique in that it’s the first time we have been able to demonstrate that this important and protective pigment can be augmented by non-dietary means” says Beatty.
“It tells us a lot about the mechanism of AMD because the blue-filtering lenses resulted in this protective pigment increasing in the eye, therefore implying that it is indeed the blue wavelength of visible light that do cause the retinal damage which results in AMD.”
The study shows that using blue-light filtering lenses will bring immediate and long-lasting benefits to patients undergoing cataract surgery, which will have a bearing on how these procedures are conducted. “Surgeons will be more likely to implant blue-light filtering IOLs if they know it results in greater protection against AMD down the road,” says Mr Beatty.