Lutein and Zeaxanthin: Updated Studies on Carotenoids for the Eyes

foods high in lutein and zeaxanthinLutein and zeaxanthin are two important nutrients found in various parts of the body, including the retina and eye lenses. Acting as powerful antioxidants, they are like an internal pair of sunglasses, filtering out harmful UVA/UVB and blue light. Additionally, they aid in reducing night glare, enhancing visual sharpness, and improving color contrast.

Research indicates that boosting levels of these carotenoids can lead to better visual function while also protecting against the onset and advancement of eye conditions like macular degeneration, glaucoma, and other eye diseases.

Damage caused by free radicals can contribute to various eye diseases and other diseases. Studies have demonstrated that lutein, zeaxanthin, and mesozeaxanthin are powerful antioxidants capable of neutralizing free radicals. By doing so, they help prevent damage to healthy cells and reduce the risk of associated diseases. 1

Macular Degeneration, Lutein and Zeaxanthin

Lutein and zeaxanthin serve as protective agents against oxidative damage and inflammation, both of which are contributing factors to chronic eye conditions such as cataracts and macular degeneration.2

A study conducted over more than 20 years in 2015 revealed a remarkable finding: individuals with the highest intake of lutein and zeaxanthin experienced a staggering 41% reduction in the risk of advanced macular degeneration. 3

Clinical studies have demonstrated that older adults who are already afflicted with macular degeneration can benefit from taking lutein and zeaxanthin supplements. These supplements have been shown to slow the progression of the condition and improve visual function. 4

Inflammation and Macular Degeneration

Studies have found that lutein helps the immune system and reduces inflammation in the eyes, easing various types of eye inflammation caused by toxins. 5 Since age-related macular degeneration (AMD) has similarities with a long-lasting, widespread inflammation in the body, researchers are now looking at how lutein might not just help the eyes but also reduce inflammation throughout the body. 6

Glaucoma and Carotenoids

Glaucoma stands as a leading cause of vision impairment, potentially leading to gradual loss of vision. Often termed the “silent thief,” glaucoma typically manifests without noticeable symptoms until an individual notices a decline in their peripheral vision. Clinical research involving glaucoma patients has shown that consuming carotenoids orally aids in safeguarding against the advancement of visual impairment while also enhancing visual acuity.7 89

Diabetes, Lutein and Zeaxanthin

Individuals with diabetic eye conditions, including diabetic retinopathy, commonly exhibit reduced levels of lutein and zeaxanthin compared to those without such conditions. Supplementing with these carotenoids has been shown to enhance visual function in these patients, resulting in improved clarity and contrast in vision.10 Furthermore, emerging research suggests that these carotenoids provide neuroprotective and anti-inflammatory benefits for the retina. 11

Computer Eye Strain

In modern times, many jobs and academic pursuits demand prolonged computer use, often compounded by frequent reliance on mobile phones. This extended screen time can lead to significant eye strain, vision problems like myopia, and challenges in adjusting focus between near and far objects, ultimately affecting concentration levels. Moreover, the increased exposure to harmful blue light emitted by LED screens exacerbates these issues. 12 However, studies have shown that macular carotenoids, such as lutein and zeaxanthin, play a crucial role in mitigating the adverse effects of excessive screen exposure. 13

Alzheimer’s Disease and Cognitive Health

Research indicates that vital nutrients like lutein and zeaxanthin, crucial for brain health, are often lacking in the brains of individuals with Alzheimer’s disease.14 Studies conducted under placebo-controlled conditions have demonstrated that a higher intake of lutein can lead to improvements in cognitive function. 15
Other nutrients can support eye health, including:

Astaxanthin

Astaxanthin is the compound behind the reddish-pink hue seen in salmon and shrimp. Research on the antioxidant properties of astaxanthin in relation to retinal injury is in its early stages but shows considerable promise. Initial studies suggest that astaxanthin may effectively mitigate retinal damage. 16

Saffron

A spice with a long history of use spanning centuries, saffron has been used to treat various health issues. It enhances visual performance and may alleviate symptoms associated with macular degeneration.17 18

Mesozeaxanthin

A carotenoid in the lutein family. Research studies have found that Mesozeaxanthin is abundant in the macula. The macula is the central part of the retina, where you get the clearest vision. It is the most powerful of the main 3 antioxidants found in the macula. When combined with lutein and zeaxanthin, Mesozeaxanthin is the most powerful. 19

Taurine

Taurine is a crucial nutrient with wide-ranging benefits for your body. From supporting night vision and eye health to enhancing cardiovascular fitness and brain function, its effects are diverse and impactful. As an amino acid and potent antioxidant, taurine is involved in vital processes throughout the body, including the brain and heart.20 It aids in waste removal from the retina, which is especially important in preventing the buildup of drusen linked to dry macular degeneration. Additionally, taurine supports cognitive function and neuro integrity, contributing to overall brain health.

Beneficial Omega-3s

These essential fatty acids play a crucial role in protecting the retina from age-related damage. 21 22 Research indicates that individuals with higher fish oil consumption have significantly lower risks of both early and late-stage age-related macular degeneration. 23 For each additional 1,000 mg of omega-3s consumed daily, the risk of early-stage macular degeneration decreases by 6% and late-stage degeneration by 22%.24 Remarkably, patients with the highest total dietary omega-3 intake see a staggering 49% reduction in the risk of developing wet macular degeneration compared to those with lower intake levels. 25

Good Food Sources of Lutein and/or Zeaxanthin

Green leafy vegetables, green peas, zucchini, pumpkin, brussels sprouts, asparagus, broccoli, carrots, eggs, corn and chocolate, bell peppers, and pistachios.

Suggested Supplements

Advanced Eye & Vision Support Formula (whole food, non-GMO) Eye Formula –  60 vcaps


Dr. Grossman’s Meso Formula Optimal Ocular Health in Digital Age – 90 vcaps
– with lutein, zeaxanthin, mesozeaxanthin, astaxanthin, taurine, algae.

Dr. Grossman’s Meso Formula Ocular Health in Digital Age – 90 vcaps

Advanced Eye and Vision Support / Meso Plus Combo (3-month supply)

Dr. Grossman’s Advanced Eye and Dr. G’s Whole Food Superfood Multi120 Vcap Combo – 2 months supply

Retinal Support (wild-crafted herbal formula) 2 oz


Taurine Extra Strength 1000 mg 100 vcaps (TAU30)

NMN Wonderfeel Capsul 60 vegcaps – helps protect optic nerve and retinal cells from damages, boosts immunity, improves mitochondrial action neuronal function in the brain.

 

Brain and Memory Support Package 1

Microcurrent Stimulation 100ile Purchase Option –  home unit for supporting retinal and optic nerve health. Summaries of 7 studies done to date are summarized on the product page.

  1. Mrowicka M, Mrowicki J, Kucharska E, Majsterek I. Lutein and Zeaxanthin and Their Roles in Age-Related Macular Degeneration-Neurodegenerative Disease. Nutrients. 2022 Feb 16;14(4):827. doi: 10.3390/nu14040827. PMID: 35215476; PMCID: PMC8874683.
  2. Pelletier AL, Rojas-Roldan L, Coffin J. Vision Loss in Older Adults. Am Fam Physician. 2016 Aug 1;94(3):219-26.
  3. Wu J, Cho E, Willett WC, et al. Intakes of Lutein, Zeaxanthin, and Other Carotenoids and Age-Related Macular Degeneration During 2 Decades of Prospective Follow-up. JAMA Ophthalmol. 2015 Dec;133(12):1415-24.
  4. Lem DW, Davey PG, Gierhart DL, Rosen RB. A Systematic Review of Carotenoids in the Management of Age-Related Macular Degeneration. Antioxidants (Basel). 2021 Aug 5;10(8).
  5. Chae SY, Shin MC, Jeon S, Kang MS, Han DW, et al. (2021). A Simple Route to the Complexation of Lutein with Reduced Graphene Oxide Nanocarriers and Antioxidant Protection Against Blue Light. Int J Nanomedicine. Oct 7;16:6843-686
  6. Ibid. Chae. 2021.
  7. Ibid Altern Med Rev. 2011 Dec;16(4):355-64.
  8. Hunter AML, Loskutova E, Lingham G, et al. Higher Macular Pigment Levels are Associated with Better Contrast Sensitivity and Photostress Recovery Time in Patients with Open-Angle Glaucoma Supplemented with Carotenoids. Investigative Ophthalmology & Visual Science. 2022;63(7):2699 – A0063-2699 – A0063.
  9. Loughman J, Loskutova E, Butler JS, Siah WF, O’Brien C. Macular Pigment Response to Lutein, Zeaxanthin, and Meso-zeaxanthin Supplementation in Open-Angle Glaucoma: A Randomized Controlled Trial. Ophthalmol Sci. 2021 Jul 11;1(3):100039. doi: 10.1016/j.xops.2021.100039. PMID: 36247822; PMCID: PMC9562333.
  10. Lem DW, Gierhart DL, Davey PG. A Systematic Review of Carotenoids in the Management of Diabetic Retinopathy. Nutrients. 2021 Jul 16;13(7):2441. doi: 10.3390/nu13072441. PMID: 34371951; PMCID: PMC8308772.
  11. Neelam K, Goenadi CJ, Lun K, Yip CC, Au Eong KG. (2017). Putative protective role of lutein and zeaxanthin in diabetic retinopathy. Br J Ophthalmol. May;101(5):551-558
  12. Available at: https://www.reviewsce.com/ce/the-lowdown-on-blue-light-good-vs-bad-and-its-connection-to-amd-109744. Accessed January 22, 2024.
  13. Stringham JM, Stringham NT, O’Brien KJ. Macular Carotenoid Supplementation Improves Visual Performance, Sleep Quality, and Adverse Physical Symptoms in Those with High Screen Time Exposure. Foods. 2017 Jun 29;6(7):47. doi: 10.3390/foods6070047. PMID: 28661438; PMCID: PMC5532554.
  14. Davinelli S, Ali S, Solfrizzi V, et al. (2021). Carotenoids and Cognitive Outcomes: A Meta-Analysis of Randomized Intervention Trials. Antioxidants (Basel). Feb 2;10(2)
  15. Hammond BR, Jr., Miller LS, Bello MO, et al. (2017). Effects of Lutein/Zeaxanthin Supplementation on the Cognitive Function of Community Dwelling Older Adults: A Randomized, Double-Masked, Placebo-Controlled Trial. Front Aging Neurosci. 2017;9:254.
  16. Okazaki, Y., Okada, S., Toyokuni, S. (2017), Astaxanthin ameliorates ferric nitrilotriacetate-induced renal oxidative injury in rats. J Clin Biochem Nutr, Jul;61(1):18-24.
  17. Fernandez-Albarral JA, de Hoz R, Ramirez AI, et al. Beneficial effects of saffron (Crocus sativus L.) in ocular pathologies, particularly neurodegenerative retinal diseases. Neural Regen Res. 2020 Aug;15(8):1408-16.
  18. Heitmar R, Brown J, Kyrou I. Saffron (Crocus sativus L.) in Ocular Diseases: A Narrative Review of the Existing Evidence from Clinical Studies. Nutrients. 2019 Mar 18;11(3).
  19. Ma, L., Liu, R. Du, J.H. T., Wu, S.S. (2016). Lutein, Zeaxanthin and Mesozeaxanthin Associated with Macular Pigment Optical Density. Nutrients, Jul 12:;8(7):E426.
  20. Singh P, Gollapalli K, Mangiola S, et al. Taurine deficiency as a driver of aging. Science. 2023 Jun 9;380(6649):eabn9257
  21. Satizabal CL, Himali JJ, Beiser AS, et al. Association of Red Blood Cell Omega-3 Fatty Acids With MRI Markers and Cognitive Function in Midlife: The Framingham Heart Study. Neurology.2022Oct 5;99(23):e2572-82.
  22. Prokopiou E, Kolovos P, Georgiou C, et al. Omega-3 fatty acids supplementation protects the retina from age-associated degeneration in aged C57BL/6J mice. BMJ Open Ophthalmology.2019;4(1):e000326.
  23. Jiang H, Shi X, Fan Y, et al. Dietary omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids and fish intake and risk of age-related macular degeneration. Clin Nutr.2021Dec;40(12):5662-73.
  24. Ibid. Jiang, (2021).
  25. Meng XT, Shi YY, Hong-Yan Z. Dietary omega-3 LCPUFA intake in the prevention of neovascular age-related macular degeneration: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Nutr Hosp.2022 Aug 25;39(4):910-5.