Lutein, Zeaxanthin & Meso-Zeaxanthin (2016) & Macular Holes


Learn more about macular holes.

Macular Pigment

Researchers investigated the relationship between the thickness of pigmented layer (macular pigment optical density (MPOD)) in the eye, known as macular pigment and macular holes. This is accomplished by means of fluorescence scanning in which light wavelengths are utlized to identify the thickness/density of the macular pigment. The researchers found that the thinner the overall layer of pigment, the more frequent the incidence of macular holes.

Researchers: L. Sauer, S. Peters, et al.,
Published: Monitoring macular pigment changes in macular holes using fluorescence lifetime imaging ophthalmoscopy, Acta Ophthalmologica, October, 2016.

Antioxidants and Macular Pigment


Researchers find that lutein and zeaxanthin that come from the consumption of red and orange vegetables and fruits are closely associated with the thickness of the macular pigment.

Reseachers: R. Estevez-Santiago,
Published: Lutein and zeaxanthin supplied by red/orange foods and fruits are more closely associated with macular pigment optical density than those from green vegetables in Spanish subjects, Nutritional Researcher, November, 2016.

Another study concurs with this finding. In a double-blind, placebo-based trial nearly 60 young men added one of the following antioxidant combinations to their diet for 12 months:

  • 10mg lutein 1mg zeaxanthin, 1mg meso-zeaxanthin
  • 20mg lutein, 2mg zeaxanthin, 2mg meso-zeaxanthin
  • placebo

The researchers were primarily investigating glare recovery vision but they did assess the macular pigment thickness/density at the beginning, at six months, and at the end of the one year period.

The macular pigment was found to have increased markedly in both of the groups receiving the antioxidants.

Researchers: J. M. Stringham, et. al.
Published: Macular carotenoid supplementation improves disability glare performance and dynamics of photostress recovery, Eye & Vision, November, 2016.

A long-term study of more than 200 patients with macular degeneration investigated the macular pigment optical density. Increases in pigment density correlated with supplementation with lutein.

Researchers: V. Meyer Zu Westrup, et. al,
Published: Changes of macular pigment optical density in elderly eyes: a longitudinal analysis from the MARS study, International Journal of Retina and Vitreous, June, 2016.

A third study links the macular pigment density with lutein and zeaxanthin intake. This study measured macular pigment in the macula in patients with AMD. Lutein and zeaxanthin were associated with greater MPOD closed to the center of the fovea area of the macula. Adding DHA to the diet increased MPOD to a wider area of the fovea.

Researchers: S. Fujimura, K. Ueda, et al.
Published: Preliminary analysis of the relationship between serum lutein and zeaxanthin levels and macular pigment optical density, Clinical Ophthalmology, October, 2016.

Editor's Note: Because the incidence of macular holes is associated with the thickness of the macular pigment, and because these antioxidants are associated with supporting macular pigment thickness, it may be reasonably concluded that supplementation with lutein, zeaxanthin and meso-zeaxanthin may help to reduce the risk and re-occurrence of macular holes.