In this work, Raman spectroscopy was investigated as a tool for monitoring glutamate levels in the eye. Glutamate is a by product of nerve cell death, and is an indicator of macular degeneration. Raman spectra was from ex vivo porcine eyes was investigated, with glutamate injected into the eyes to simulate disease conditions. The Raman spectra from the native eye was dominated by the lens. However, an optical system was designed to optimize collection of signal from the vitreous and reduce the background lens signal. The molecular signature of glutamate was detectable in the Raman spectra by this system.© (2000) COPYRIGHT SPIE--The International Society for Optical Engineering. Downloading of the abstract is permitted for personal use only.