By TAP Integrative

At the center of the retina (the macula) three pigments are concentrated. These pigments—the carotenoids lutein, zeaxanthin, and meso-zeaxanthin—come from the foods we eat. The role of macular pigment in our vision has been a subject of much conjecture and research for more than a century, with studies intensifying over the past two decades.

Understanding the purpose of macular pigment and how to best support may help us prevent or treat age-related macular degeneration (AMD).

AMD is the leading cause of vision loss in people over age 50. In AMD, the macula, which is responsible for sharp, central vision, becomes damaged. It can progress slowly or quickly and result in blurry, distorted, or dark vision in one or both eyes. AMD is partly attributable to oxidative stress, and research has shown that blue light causes oxidative stress in the retina. Macular pigment is known to be a powerful antioxidant, and it also filters short wavelength visible light (blue light).

Researchers have been interested in whether supplementing with macular pigment’s constituent carotenoids could affect the vision of people with AMD. In 2011, the European Research Council awarded funding to conduct the Central Retinal Enrichment Supplementation Trials (CREST) to test that hypothesis. CREST was divided into two separate trials—one to study the effects of the above mentioned carotenoids in subjects with low macular pigment but without AMD, and another to study the carotenoids’ effects in people with early AMD. The results of the first trial were published in a 2016 issue of the journal Investigative Ophthalmology & Visual Science.

The trial included 105 participants who consumed either the carotenoid combination (10 mg lutein, 2 mg zeaxanthin, 10 mg meso-zeaxanthin) or placebo daily for 12 months. The researchers found that compared to the placebo group, the treatment group had significant improvements in several measures of visual function.

The researchers concluded that daily supplementation with lutein, zeaxanthin, and meso-zeaxanthin can have a meaningful impact on visual function.

 


Reference

Nolan JM, Power R, Stringham J, et al. Enrichment of macular pigment enhances contrast sensitivity in subjects free of retinal disease: central retinal enrichment supplementation trials – report 1. Invest Ophthalmol Vis Sci. 2016;57(7):3429


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*These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease