Zeaxanthin (2010, 2011) and macular degeneration

Learn more about macular degeneration treatment and information and about food sources for zeaxanthin.


A 2011 study confirms that vision is improved in the elderly with early macular degeneration by adding Zeaxanthin as a nutritional supplement. Zeaxanthin is a a carotenoid.

The Zeaxanthin and Visual Function Study demonstrates that dietary Zeaxanthin improved vision, including improvement in night blindness and seeing fine detail.

The one year study involved elderly veterans who were given 8mg of Zeaxanthin daily. The researcher found improvement in the ability to drive at night, and an average improvement of 1.5 lines or 8.5 letters on an eye chart, and the disappearance of blind spots.

Some of the people were additionally given 9 mg of lutein daily.

Zeaxanthin and lutein are two carotenoids (part of a family of antioxidants that give fruits and vegetables their color) found in the retina and macula of the eye. Zeaxanthin protects the cones, or photoreceptors responsible for central vision, color perception, and fine detail.

Since the average daily diet in the U.S. does not include enough fresh fruits and vegetables, it is difficult, particularly for the elderly, to maintain healthy macular pigment levels to protect their vision.

Researchers: Stuart Richer, PhD, OD, et al
Published: Randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study of zeaxanthin and visual function in patients with atrophic age-related macular degeneration: the Zeaxanthin and Visual Function Study (ZVF) FDA IND #78, 973, Optometry, November, 2011


An earlier study also found that zeaxanthin supplementation can increase the density of pigments in the macula pigment. The increased density helps protect the macula from the damage caused by blue light and sunlight.

Reference: The Zeaxanthin and Visual Function Study in Atrophic Age Related Macular Degeneration (ZVF-FDA IND #78,973) - MP and Foveal Shape Discrimination: S.P. Richer1, et al.