Lutein and Zeaxanthin Supplementation Improves Visual Performance in Healthy Adults
Dietary carotenoids lutein and zeaxanthin are plant-derived pigments that concentrate in the inner layers of the macula region of the eye. The macular pigments act much like a sunscreen within the eye to protect the delicate tissues of the retina. It is well known that sufficient levels of these carotenoids reduce the risk of macular degeneration, a major cause of blindness in the elderly. Less is known of the benefits of supplementation of lutein and zeaxanthin in young, healthy adults.
A recent double-blind placebo controlled study assessed the effect of lutein and zeaxanthin on macular pigment optical density (MPOD) - a measure of the amount of macular pigment present in the macular, and improvements in glare disability, photostress recovery, and other measures of visual performance.
The study included 115 young, healthy adults who either received a supplement containing a daily dosage of 10 mg of lutein and 2 mg zeaxanthin or a placebo over a one year supplementation period. Several measurements were collected at baseline and every 3 months: serum lutein and zeaxanthin levels, MPOD, photostress recovery, chromatic contrast and glare disability.
Photostress recovery is a measure of how fast the eye recovers sight after being exposed to a flash of bright light. Chromatic contrast is the ability to discriminate an object from its colored surroundings. Glare disability is a measure of the amount of glaring light that can be tolerated before vision is significantly impaired.
The study found that MPOD and serum lutein and zeaxanthin levels increased significantly in the supplement groups when compared with the placebo group. In the supplemented group, chromatic contrast and photostress recovery times also improved significantly during the study period. The researchers also found that improvement in glare disability was highly correlated to increased macular pigment density.
Results from this study demonstrate that lutein and zeaxanthin supplementation improves several measures of visual function in normal healthy individuals. These results are consistent with previous studies showing that increasing MPOD leads to improved visual performance
Hammond BR et al. Invest Ophthalmol Vis Sci. 2014 Dec 2;55(12):8583-9.