Lutein boosts night-vision in drivers

February 15, 2013

Lutein is a natural carotenoid. It is an orangey-reddish colorful pigment that is very important for the health of the eye and ongoing good vision. Lutein helps protect the macular region and retina of the eye. A large and growing body of human research shows that Lutein can decrease the risk and incidence of age related macular degeneration, a major cause of blindness in the elderly, and can also slow down the formation of cataracts, a major cause of vision loss in the elderly. Lutein helps shield the eye from blue light, the most destructive wavelength of light to the human eye and therefore Lutein functions as a form of internal sunglasses.

Lutein is found in green leafy vegetables and in egg yolk and in fact it gives chickens their yellowish color (at low concentrations Lutein appears yellowish and at higher concentrations it is red-orange). Foods that supply Lutein include broccoli, spinach, kale, corn, zucchini, and squash. Some multivitamins claim they contain Lutein but they usually provide a relatively small amount of 0.25 mg per tablet; far below the amount used in human clinical trials. A good dosage would be 5mg or 6mg per serving.

In this study 120 people who drove an average of ten-hours per day for the two-years preceding the study were supplemented with 20mg of Lutein each day or inactive placebo for comparisons sake over the following year. The density of the macular tissue improved significantly in those on Lutein and so did their ability to drive at night or during periods of low-light. Lutein also improved contrast sensitivity; the ability to distinguish an object more easily from its background. Lastly, Lutein improved glare. The study is published online ahead of print in the journal Nutrition on January 26th, 2013.