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Simple Raman Instrument for in Vivo Detection of Macular Pigments

Volume 59, Number 7 (July 2005) Page 861-867

Ermakov, Igor V.; Ermakova, Maia R.; Gellermann, Werner


Raman spectroscopy holds promise as a novel noninvasive technology for the quantification of the macular pigments (MP) lutein and zeaxanthin. These compounds, which are members of the carotenoid family, are thought to prevent or delay the onset of age-related macular degeneration, the leading cause of irreversible blindness in the elderly. It is highly likely that they achieve this protection through their function as optical filters and/or antioxidants. Using resonant excitation in the visible region, we measure and quantify the Raman signals that originate from the carbon double bond (C=C) stretch vibrations of the π-conjugated molecule backbone. In this manuscript we describe the construction and performance of a novel compact MP Raman instrument utilizing dielectric angle-tuned band-pass filters for wavelength selection and a single-channel photo-multiplier for the detection of MP Raman responses. MP concentration measurements are fast and accurate, as seen in our experiments with model eyes and living human eyes. The ease and rapidity of Raman MP measurements, the simplicity of the instrumentation, the high accuracy of the measurements, and the lack of significant systematic errors should make this technology attractive for widespread clinical research.