Lutein and Lycopene do protect the eye and reduce the risk of eye disease

January 11, 2010

     Carotenoids are the yellow, orange, and red pigments in fruits and vegetables. Many studies show that they protect structures within the eye and help prevent and even treat eye disease. A new study shows they increase visual performance and adds to the evidence that they may prevent age-related eye diseases.
     The study authors from the University of Georgia compiled the results of multiple studies on the effects of the carotenoids Lutein and Zeaxanthin on visual performance. These carotenoids play an important role in human vision, including a positive impact on the retina. After reviewing the various studies, the authors concluded that macular pigments, such as Lutein and Zeaxanthin, do have an effect on visual performance. Lutein and Zeaxanthin can reduce disability and discomfort from glare, enhance contrast, and reduce photostress recovery times. They can also reduce glare from light absorption and increase the range of vision.
     Lead author Dr. Billy R. Hammond Jr. noted in a statement that the research of the effects of Lutein and Zeaxanthin are important because “it is clear that they could potentially improve vision through biological means. For example, a study conducted in 2008 suggests that the pigments protect the retina and lens and perhaps even help prevent age-related eye diseases such as macular degeneration and cataract.” The most common carotenoids in American diets are alpha-carotene, beta-carotene, lycopene, Lutein, beta-cryptoxanthin, and Zeaxanthin. Alpha-carotene, beta-carotene, and beta-cryptoxanthin can be converted by the body to retinol, a form of vitamin A. The study is published in the Journal of Food Science.