Reducing the Risk of AMD – a Leading Cause of Blindness
One of the most important roles for lutein -- and its partner nutrient zeaxanthin – is protection of the macula. Lutein and zeaxanthin have been shown to reduce the risk for age-related macular degeneration (AMD) and, in those that already have the disease, reduce the risk of its progression.1 In 2010, macular degeneration was the third most common cause of blindness and the third most common cause for visual impairment.2 It is projected that, in 2020, 196 million people worldwide will have age-related macular degeneration. By 2040, that number may increase to 288 million.3
Lutein and zeaxanthin’s ability to protect the macula was demonstrated in two landmark studies conducted by the National Eye Institute in the U.S. In one study, people who consumed diets high in lutein and zeaxanthin intake had a lower risk of developing AMD.4 In the other study, people given a supplement with various antioxidants including lutein and zeaxanthin had an 18 percent reduction in risk for all forms of AMD. And perhaps more importantly, in those who already suffer from AMD, the supplements containing lutein and zeaxanthin reduced its progression an additional 10 percent.5
Additional research with AMD patients has also shown that lutein supplementation improved the ability to adapt to the dark; enhanced sensitivity to contrast; and improved the ability to recover from glare.6,7,8
Lutein and zeaxanthin also play a role in reducing the progression of the biggest cause of blindness around the world, cataracts.
Other studies have shown that lutein supplementation significantly slowed the loss of midperipheral vision in subjects with the eye disease retinitis pigmentosa, a genetic degenerative disease in which patients gradually lose parts of their vision and, in some cases, go blind.
1 JAMA. 2013;309(19):2005-2015
2 The Lancet Global Health 2013 1(6): e339-e349
3 The Lancet Global Health 2014 2(2):e106-e116
4 Arch Ophthalmol. 2007 Sep;125(9):1225–32
5 JAMA. 2013;309(19):2005-2015
6 Optom St Louis Mo. 2004. 75(4):216–30
7 Ophthalmol. 2003 Jan;110(1):51–60; discussion 61
8 Ophthalmol. 2007;7:3