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Harvard Study Supports Role of Lutein and Zeaxanthin in Eye Health

A recent study from researchers at Harvard and Brown suggests that increasing levels of lutein and zeaxanthin is associated with a 40% reduction in the risk of advanced age-related macular degeneration.


Participants in the study included 102,046 people who took part in the Nurses’ Health Study and the Health Professionals Follow-up Study who were followed for twenty years. Over the course of the study, there were 1,361 confirmed cases of intermediate age-related macular degeneration and 1,118 cases of advanced age-related macular degeneration.


After examining the data, the researchers found that participants with the highest average plasma lutein/zeaxanthin levels had a 40% lower risk of developing advanced age-related macular degeneration when compared with participants who had the lowest average levels.


Additionally, the researchers found a correlation between a reduced risk of advanced age-related macular degeneration and levels of beta-cryptoxanthin, alpha-carotene, and beta-carotene. Specifically, they noted a 25% to 35% lower risk of age-related macular degeneration in participants with the highest average levels, when compared to those with the lowest.


The researchers did not find an association between intermediate age-related macular degeneration and carotenoid levels.


The study was published online ahead of print on October 8, 2015, in JAMA Ophthalmology.


Lutein and zeaxanthin are the only two carotenoids that can build macular pigment. Lutein and zeaxanthin create the yellow pigmentation of the macula, which is the part of the eye that provides protection from damaging blue light. If the yellow macular pigment is too thin, blue light can penetrate the retina and cause long-term damage.


You can increase your lutein and zeaxanthin levels by consuming more green leafy vegetables, corn, and egg yolk.

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