When we read, or see the faces of our family and friends, we use our central vision. A healthy macula, the center of the retina enables us to do so. Many people suffer a gradual loss of central vision as they age from the condition, Age-Related Macular Degeneration (ARMD). This degenerative process is a major cause of vision loss in the United States. However, research studies offer hope that nutritional intervention may help prevent ARMD and help improve the vision in people with ARMD.
Of the many carotenoids found in the food we eat, lutein and zeaxanthin are selectively deposited and concentrated in the macula. Previously, research studies have indicated that dietary intakes of dark green leafy vegetables, which are high in lutein, reduce the risk of macular degeneration. Other studies have shown that a higher macular pigment density is related to preservation of vision and that increasing dietary lutein improves macular pigment density.
A study conducted by Dr. Stuart Richer and published in the April 2004 issue of Optometry found that lutein alone and lutein combined with other antioxidants may improve the vision in patients with ARMD. Study participants were 90 AMD patients. They received daily, lutein (10 mg), lutein (10 mg) combined with a multivitamin and antioxidants supplement, or a placebo. Vision tests were performed at 4, 8 and 12 months. Both treatment groups had improvements in macular pigment density, glare recovery and improved near visual acuity and quality of vision (contrast sensitivity function). No progression of ARMD was observed in people receiving the lutein and multivitamin/antioxidant.
Optometry. April 2004; 74(4):216-30.