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Lutein and zeaxanthin may improve retina function of patients with early AMD

March 23, 2015

A new study from China indicates that increased intakes of lutein and zeaxanthin may improve macular pigment optical density and retinal sensitivity in people with early age-related macular degeneration.

In the randomized controlled trial, 112 patients with early age-related macular degeneration (AMD) received either lutein supplements at a daily dose of 10 mg, lutein supplements at 20 mg per day, a daily lutein (10 mg) plus zeaxanthin (10 mg) or a placebo for two years (1). The study results showed that lutein and zeaxanthin increased macular pigment optical density (MPOD) significantly in all participants, compared to placebo. In addition, retinal function was found to increase significantly in the central retina of all participants who were supplemented with the carotenoids.

The researchers commented that there is a growing body of evidence that supplementation with macular carotenoids may also increase MPOD and visual performance in normal subjects without macular diseases. It is possible therefore that the implications of the new findings may be clinically valuable for both AMD patients and healthy people, they said. Improvement in retinal function as a result of macular pigment augmentation is probably attributable to at least one of two mechanisms: First, pre-receptoral filtration of blue light will attenuate the adverse effect of chromatic aberration and of veiling luminance on contrast sensitivity. Second, the antioxidant effect of macular carotenoids may exert a beneficial effect in maculae afflicted with conditions known to result from oxidative stress, such as AMD.

References

  1. Huang Y.-M. et al. Changes following supplementation with lutein and zeaxanthin in retinal function in eyes with early age-related macular degeneration: a randomised, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial. British Journal of Ophthalmology. 2015; 99:371–375.