Background: A baseline level of lipofuscin in the retinal pigment epithelium (RPE) is inevitable with age, but increased levels due to increased oxidative stress can result in deleterious vision loss at older ages. As earlier detection of differences in levels can lead to superior preventative management, we studied the relationship between lipofuscin accumulation and dietary lifestyle (vegetarian vs. nonvegetarian) in the younger, healthy South Asian population using retinal fundus autofluorescence (FAF) imaging. Methods: In this pilot study, we examined 37 healthy subjects (average age 23 years ± 1) all undergoing similar stress levels as medical students at Rutgers New Jersey Medical School. Levels of lipofuscin concentrations were imaged using a FAF retinal camera (Canon CX-1). Two images (color and FAF) were captured of the left eye and included in the analysis. FAF quantitative scoring was measured in 2 regions of the captured image, the papillo-macular region (P) and the macula (M), by determining the grayscale score of a 35.5 mm2 rectangle in the respective regions. Standardized scores (corrected to remove baseline fluorescence) were then obtained. Means, standard deviations, and t tests were performed for comparisons. Results: Fundus autofluorescence scores of regions P and M were significantly different (P <.05) between groups. Region P was further standardized and results remained significant. Conclusions: Our preliminary results show that in this cohort, vegetarians had statistically significant lower levels of autofluorescence. These findings can have potential implications regarding long-term retinal health and risk for developing certain diseases over decades in subjects at risk for vision-threatening diseases.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Internal Medicine
- Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism
- Biomedical Engineering
- fundus autofluorescence
- retinal pigment epithelium