Lutein and zeaxanthin carotenoids are antioxidants located in the macula (retina) part of the eye (Landrum et al., 2001). Their deficiency can lead to visual impairment. Lutein and zeaxanthin are not produced in the body and need to be obtained from food. These carotenoids help filter harmful high-energy blue wavelengths of light. This helps protect and maintain healthy cells in the eyes. Intake of this class of compounds helps prevent the occurrence of cataract and AMD (Krinsky et al., 2003).
Green leafy vegetables are the richest sources of these carotenoids. These have 15-47% of lutein, but a very low content (0.3%) of zeaxanthin. Fruits and vegetables of various colors should be consumed to increase the dietary intake of both carotenoids (Sommerburg et al., 1998). Corn and corn products were also found to be rich in dietary zeaxanthin (Perry et al., 2009).
Antioxidants and other supplement combinations that include high doses of vitamin C, E and zinc supplements, were seen to significantly reduce the odds of developing the advanced macular disorder (disorders that result in vision loss) in a group of people in the age group of 55 years to 80 years (AREDS report, 2001).
Oral and topical administration of lutein and zeaxanthin was observed to provide the highest degree of antioxidant protection (Palombo et al., 2007). The relationship between these carotenoids and the reduction of age-related eye diseases like cataract and AMD was noted (Delcourt et al., 2006).
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