Carotenoids are antioxidants that produce the bright red, orange, yellow and green colors of vegetables and fruits. Notable carotenoids include lutein, Zeaxanthin, beta-carotene, and lycopene.
A new study shows that carotenoids benefit eye health and age-related macular degeneration (AMD). AMD is the leading cause of irreversible visual impairment and blindness in the U.S. and other developed countries throughout the world, causing vision loss in more than 200,000 people every year. This is expected to increase to 3 million in the U.S. alone over the next 20 years.
In the study, 27 patients between 59 and 73 years of age with diagnosed AMD took either a daily supplement regimen of vitamin C (180 mg), vitamin E (30 mg), zinc (22.5 mg), copper (1 mg), lutein (10 mg), zeaxanthin (1 mg), and astaxanthin (4 mg)) or a placebo for one year. The 15 patients on the supplements were also compared to 15 patients of similar age without AMD. Each patient underwent a Multifocal Electroretinogram (mfERG) that measured aspects of eye health regarding the retina.
The researchers found that those in the untreated AMD group had no changes in their mfERG. Those in the supplement groups had “a reduction in mfERG impairment” around the center of the retina (and thereby an improvement in AMD symptoms) that was observed by six months. The researchers felt that the supplement improved overall nerve cell health in the eye. No further improvements were seen by the 12th month of supplementation.
The researchers concluded, “In non-advanced AMD eyes, a selective dysfunction in the central retina can be improved by the supplementation with carotenoids and antioxidants.”
Parisi V. Carotenoids and Antioxidants in Age-Related Maculopathy Italian Study: Multifocal Electroretinogram Modifications after 1 Year. Opthalmology 2008; 115(2): 324-333.e2