Lutein (2003) and Increased Visual Acuity


Learn more about retinitis pigmentosa recommendations.

In an informal study, a researcher analyzed information from a small online email questionnaire and determined that lutein, which is in dark green leafy vegetables and egg yolks may help people with retinitis pigmentosa (RP) and other degenerative eye conditions.

Three quarters of the 16 study participants with retinal degenerative conditions reported that taking daily supplements lutein, over a six-month period significantly helped their vision. Lutein is an antioxidant needed by the retina to resist damaging effects of blue light and free radicals.

Study participants were recruited after a member of an international retinal degeneration patient e-mail list noted that some of her contacts said their vision improved with lutein supplementation.

The participants took lutein supplements with breakfast daily for 6 months, 40 mg/day for 9 weeks and then 20 mg/day for the remainder. One half of the participants also took 500 mg/day of DHA, vitamin B complex and digestive enzymes. Ten of the participants who already were taking vitamin A and/or beta carotene continued those supplements. They tested their vision on eye charts sent as e-mail attachments and on wall charts they were instructed to create, and returned data via weekly e-mails to the study coordinators.

Most patients saw improvement in vision sharpness and visual field size. The blue-eyed patients, more at risk, had larger gains in vision than the dark-eyed participants. Also, those who took vitamin A and/or beta carotene supplements prior to the study appeared to benefit more than those who did not. The long-term effects of lutein supplements on the progression of RP should be studied,

Researchers: Johns Hopkins University, Gislin Dagnelie, Ph.D., and others, Hopkins' Wilmer Eye Institute

Published in the March issue of Optometry:Journal of the American Optometric Association.