Age-related changes in local water and protein content of human eye lenses measured by Raman microspectroscopy

Itte Siebinga, Gijs F.J.M. Vrensen, Frits F.M. de Mul, Jan Greve

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

    95 Citations (Scopus)
    184 Downloads (Pure)


    The Raman microspectroscopic method was used to determine the local water and protein content in human lenses. In 18 lenses of varying age position-defined water/protein content measurements were carried out along the visual and the equatorial axis. A main characteristic of the human lens is its constant and relatively low protein content. In addition this constant nuclear value is reached within a short distance from the capsular surface. For statistical analysis of age-related changes the data points in individual lenses were piecewise linearized. (1) The mean nuclear water content was calculated from the data points in the inner 80% of the visual axis. (2) The steep drop in water content was linearized using a least-squares linear regression approach. The distance between lenticular surface and the intersection of the regression line with the line representing the nuclear mean was denominated as surface layer width. It proved that: (i) the mean nuclear water content significantly increased with age, (ii) the width of the surface layer was age independent in the anterior and posterior poles of the visual axis, and (iii) in the equatorial axis the surface layer width significantly decreased with age. Seven human lenses with small opaque spots were also investigated. The opaque spots proved to have a normal-for-site water content and some of them were flanked at their capsular side by a zone with a high-for-site water content. The correlation between protein content and refractive index and the observed decrease in nuclear protein content in aging human lenses can be taken as strong evidence that upon aging the refractive index of a major part of the human lens is reduced. The implications of this decrease is discussed with the respect to the problem known as the lens Paradox, i.e. the discrepancy between the theoretically expected age-related loss of far vision due to changes in lens curvature and axial position in the eye and the actually observed loss in near vision upon age.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)233-239
    JournalExperimental eye research
    Issue number2
    Publication statusPublished - 1991


    Dive into the research topics of 'Age-related changes in local water and protein content of human eye lenses measured by Raman microspectroscopy'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

    Cite this