An Eye on Nutrition

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Exposure to UVB light causes oxidative damage associated with macular degeneration. However, maintaining high levels of lutein and zeaxanthin reduces this damage and lowers the risk for vision loss, according to a study from the Institute of Food Science, Food Technology, and Nutrition in Madrid, Spain. Eye cells were treated with a variety of substances, including lutein, zeaxanthin, or anthocyanins, prior to UVB exposure. Results showed that while UVB exposure to untreated eye cells reduced cell viability by 46% with increasing oxidative damage, pre-treatment with lutein, zeaxanthin, or anthocyanins reduced this damage and increased cell viability. The researchers conclude that, “…the use of natural dietary antioxidants might reduce ocular oxidative damage caused by UVB radiation.”

Researchers at the University Hospital in Dijon, France report that blood levels of lutein and zeaxanthin are a marker for macular pigment optical density (MPOD), making it easier to detect potential deficiencies that could lead to vision loss.

Nutrients proven to lower the risk for age-related macular degeneration include lutein and zeaxanthin, the omega-3 fats EPA and DHA, zinc, copper, and vitamins C and E, state researchers at the University of Connecticut Health Center in Farmington. DHA also reduces the risk for dry eye syndrome, according to a study from the Institute Catala de Retina in Barcelona, Spain.

Silvan J, Requero M, de Pascual-Teresa S: A protective effect of anthocyanins and xanthophylls on UVB-induced damage in retinal pigment epithelial cells. Food & Function 2016; 7:1067-1076.

Alassane S, Binquet C, Cottet V, et al: Relationships of macular pigment optical density with plasma lutein, zeaxanthin, and diet in an elderly population. Investigative Ophthalmology and Vision Science 2016;57:1160-1167.

McCusker M, Durrani K, Payette M, et al: The role of vitamins, essential fatty acids, and antioxidants in age-related macular degeneration, dry eye syndrome, and cataracts. Clinical Dermatology 2016; 34:276-285.

Gatell-Tortajada J: Oral supplementation with a nutraceutical formulation containing omega-3 fatty acids, vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants in a large series of patients with dry eye symptoms. Clinical Intervention in Aging 2016;11:571-578.

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