The photoreceptor system and the underlying RPE layer is protected by the yellow Macular Pigment (MP), and MP is entirely of dietary origin and composed of the carotenoids – lutein (L), zeaxanthin(Z) and meso-zeazanthin (MZ).
MP is located at a prereceptoral level (i.e. before the light is incident upon the photoreceptors), and therefore protects the photoreceptors and the RPE from photo-oxidative damage (especially given that lipofuscin is a chromophore; a chromophore refers to a compound that produces damaging free radicals when exposed to blue light).
Moreover, MP’s constituent carotenoids are powerful antioxidants (i.e. can neutralise damaging free radicals), and therefore limit injury caused by photo-oxidative processes.
The epicenter of the macula, an area known as the fovea, has the highest concentration of cone photoreceptors.
Accordingly, the fovea is responsible for sharp central vision and for color vision, and is essential for a good quality of life and for safety.
At the fovea, MZ is the dominant carotenoid.
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