Natural Treatment for Macular Degeneration: Lutein, Zeaxanthin & Meso-zeaxanthin

Richard says: I had to stop my career as a diamond cutter, because the horrible eye strain was destroying my eyesight. This article is all about what saved my eyesight, and what you can do to save yours. Any natural treatment for macular degeneration is preferable to surgery or vision loss. However, it must be easy to do at home and be effective.

This article was written by Dr. Helcio Ferreira, a medical researcher in Venezuela. Comments on this article are by Richard Quick.

Nature Provides a Natural Treatment for Macular Degeneration

Lutein, zeaxanthin, and meso-zeaxanthin are xanthophyll carotenoids responsible for providing macular pigments. These carotenoids have important antioxidant functions for visual health, these compounds are not synthesized by the body and must be obtained through diet. [1]

Green leafy vegetables, egg yolks, citrus fruits, and some nuts contain high concentrations of lutein and zeaxanthin. After eating these foods and acquiring dietary carotenoids, they will concentrate more on the retina. [2] Up to 90% of carotenoids are concentrated in the human retina, the remaining percentage is concentrated in human serum.

The highest concentration of the carotenoids lutein, zeaxanthin and meso-zeaxanthin are found in the macula due to a specific uptake mechanism, this suggests the importance of carotenoids for visual health, such as the prevention of age-related macular degeneration (AMD), diabetic retinopathy and cataract.

Age-related macular degeneration is a disorder that affects a large part of the adult population. Macular degeneration affects the central area of ​​the retina affecting visual acuity and the accuracy of central vision.

Macular degeneration affects the ability to read, drive, normally use your smartphone or computer, or perform any activity that requires visual acuity to observe fine details. Macular degeneration can affect your personal and work life. For that reason, it is necessary to know the importance of lutein, zeaxanthin, and meso-zeaxanthin as a natural treatment for visual health.

Richard says: Meso-zeaxanthin is more concentrated in the center of the retina. [10] So, if the center of your vision is weak, make sure you are getting Meso-zeaxanthin in your supplement. Likewise, lutein is more concentrated on the edges of the retina. [10]

The Importance of Lutein and Zeaxanthin for Visual Health

Lutein and zeaxanthin are important carotenoid compounds for visual health due to their antioxidant capacity. These carotenoids can prevent damage of free radicals in the macula, preventing deterioration of visual health such as age-related macular degeneration. The antioxidant effects of lutein and zeaxanthin are also important in preventing diabetic retinopathy. [3]

The body cannot produce lutein and zeaxanthin, for this reason, it is necessary to obtain it from the diet. Lutein is stored in the retina and its main function is to act as a protective filter for blue and ultraviolet light. Preventing the development of macular degeneration and cataract problems.

Xanthophyll carotenoids (lutein and zeaxanthin) are responsible for protecting plants against solar radiation. This function is also important for the organism, because carotenoids can protect the skin and eyes from ultraviolet radiation. These natural compounds are a natural sunscreen for the eyes, capable of preventing cell degeneration and progressive visual loss.

Lutein, zeaxanthin, and meso-zeaxanthin are relevant to prevent eye diseases, there is no other natural component with the same importance for visual health care.

Studies published by the Archives of Ophthalmology journal have shown that lutein and zeaxanthin decrease the risk of vision loss in people suffering from retinitis and macular degeneration. [4]

Main Benefits of Lutein, Zeaxanthin, and Meso-zeaxanthin for Visual Health

  • Lutein and zeaxanthin have an antioxidant effect to protect the tissues of the retina
  • They can maintain visual acuity
  • Prevent free radical damage
  • Help maintain eye pressure levels
  • Avoid the impact of ultraviolet rays
  • Prevents macular degeneration [5]

Lutein and zeaxanthin should be acquired through diet, for this reason, it is important to consume the right foods to maintain visual health.

In the United States, the information campaign on the importance of lutein and zeaxanthin for visual health has increased.

The eyes are complex organs that require meticulous care. For this, it is important to follow these simple steps to maintain visual health and prevent macular degeneration:

  • Protect the eyes from the effect of ultraviolet rays
  • Do not use computer screens or televisions for a long time
  • Decrease the brightness of the phone or tablet screen
  • Use adequate light to read, this way you will not force the vision
  • Properly control diabetes with your doctor
  • Consume vegetables, green leaves, eggs, nuts, and citrus fruits to obtain the necessary lutein and zeaxanthin [5]

What is Macular Degeneration?

Age-related macular degeneration is the most common cause of blindness in the adult population. For this reason, numerous studies have been conducted to find an effective treatment.

Oxidative stress is one of the main causes of macular degeneration. Lutein and zeaxanthin are two powerful antioxidants capable of preventing vision loss. They have been classified as a natural treatment for macular degeneration prevention. [6]

Macular degeneration is a disorder that slowly affects visual health. Degeneration decreases visual acuity and central vision, making it difficult to read and visualize fine details.

Macular degeneration is common in people over 50, for this reason, it is called age-related macular degeneration.

What are the causes of macular degeneration?

The macula is a metabolically active tissue of the retina and its function is to ensure visual sharpness and the ability to see fine details. The macula is a yellow spot located in the center of the retina and is composed of two important pigments: lutein and zeaxanthin.

Macular degeneration is caused by damage of free radicals on blood vessels that supply the macula.

Oxidative stress is the main cause of various chronic diseases associated with age, such as atherosclerosis, Alzheimer’s, neoplasia and macular degeneration. The macula is a metabolically active tissue susceptible to oxidative stress. [6]

Free radicals are residues of physiological processes that create optical stress. Which produces an important physiological imbalance. Thus increasing the presence of free radicals. The process of oxidative stress increases the levels of oxidative phospholipids in the photoreceptor cells of the macula, increasing the risk of macular degeneration.

Beta carotene, vitamin C and vitamin E do not have the same effectiveness as lutein and zeaxanthin in the macula because they are neutralized by free radicals.

There is strong evidence that cigarettes are a determining risk factor for the development of macular degeneration. Nicotine is a stimulator of cellular oxidation capable of reducing the optical density of the macular pigment. Several investigations have found a relationship between smoking with reduced levels of macular pigment.

Classification of Macular Degeneration:

The diagnosis of age-related macular degeneration is classified as dry (not neovascular) or wet (neovascular). Wet macular degeneration is characterized by the growth of new blood vessels in the macula, where it should not normally be.

  • Dry AMD

Degeneration occurs due to the weakening of blood vessels, causing small yellow deposits called localized thickening. This is the main phase of macular degeneration. [6]

  • Wet AMD

Wet degeneration is atypical and only occurs in 10% of affected people. It is characterized by the growth of abnormal blood vessels that leak blood and essential fluids. This type of degeneration causes greater vision loss.

What Are the Main Risk Factors?

  • High-fat diet
  • Women over 40
  • Family history of visual diseases or diabetes
  • Low consumption of vegetables and fruits
  • Smoking and high alcohol consumption

Lutein, Zeaxanthin, and Meso-Zeaxanthin: Natural Treatment for Macular Degeneration

Various international studies have been done on the dietary intake of lutein and zeaxanthin and their relationship with the risk of age-related macular degeneration. The results agreed that the dietary intake of lutein and zeaxanthin decreased the risk of macular degeneration due to its antioxidant effects. [7]

Lutein and zeaxanthin can improve visual function in many ways. Macular pigments help filter blue light by reducing chromatic aberration, improving visual acuity and contrast sensitivity. People who regularly eat green leafy vegetables, egg yolks, citrus fruits or consume lutein and zeaxanthin supplements, reduce visual disturbances associated with glare, improve visual acuity, and decrease the risk of macular degeneration.

The ability of lutein, zeaxanthin, and meso-zeaxanthin to filter the impact of blue light on the retina decreases the impact of free radicals and oxidative stress on the retina.

Various studies on the control of eye diseases and the consumption of carotenoids (lutein and zeaxanthin) showed that people who acquired more carotenoids from the diet were 43% less likely to develop macular degeneration compared to those who did not consume enough amounts of carotenoids.

Vitamin consumption did not demonstrate the same effectiveness of lutein and zeaxanthin in reducing the risk of macular degeneration and other visual diseases.

How do Lutein and Zeaxanthin Prevent Macular Degeneration?

The retina is susceptible to damage caused by oxidative stress due to its affinity for oxygen, its exposure to sunlight and its high fatty acid composition.

Several studies have concluded that most retinal lesions are caused by oxidative stress and that macular pigments and antioxidant vitamins protect the retina against this type of lesion.

Macular pigments reduce the oxidative damage of the retina, because they absorb the incoming blue light, turning off the oxidative stress process. Lutein and zeaxanthin protect the retina and its lipid composition from the impact of free radicals, reducing the risk of age-related macular degeneration.

All risk factors associated with macular degeneration such as gender, smoking, and visual sensitivity are related to lutein and zeaxanthin deficiency. All the evidence found in various studies concludes on the importance of lutein and zeaxanthin for visual health. [7]

What Are the Natural Sources of Lutein and Zeaxanthin?

Lutein and zeaxanthin are obtained mainly from the diet. Various vegetables, grains, green leafy vegetables, and fruits contain high amounts of these xanthophyll carotenoids.

The main vegetables with a high percentage of lutein and zeaxanthin are common vegetables that can be included in various diets due to their high nutritional content.

Vegetables high in lutein and zeaxanthin for visual health:

Kale, spinach, broccoli, lettuce, squash, brussels sprouts, chard, asparagus, celery, corn and various types of cabbage. [8]

Fruits high in lutein and zeaxanthin for visual health, especially yellow fruits:

Mango, oranges, pears, apples, tangerines, lemon, melon, guavas and other yellow fruits.

Egg yolk is an excellent source of lutein and zeaxanthin, despite containing fewer carotenoids than other vegetables such as spinach or broccoli. Lutein and zeaxanthin are soluble lipids, and monounsaturated fatty acids in egg yolk improve their absorption in the body.

To improve the absorption of carotenoids in the diet it is advisable to add healthy oils, such as olive oil, to vegetables such as spinach, broccoli or kale. Some nuts, such as pistachios, contain lutein and are rapidly absorbed due to their fatty acid content.

Can the Cooking Process Affect the Concentration of Lutein and Zeaxanthin?

The cooking process can affect the concentrations of essential nutrients such as vitamins and carotenoids such as lutein and zeaxanthin. Long cooking of green leafy vegetables considerably reduces the lutein content by 30%.

Raw vegetables retain all of their nutrients including carotenoids, a cup of raw spinach (100 grams) can contain 30% of the daily requirement of lutein and zeaxanthin.

Raw salads and cold-pressed green juices to retain the greatest amount of nutrients. [9]

Effects of Lutein and Zeaxanthin on Diabetic Retinopathy

Diabetic retinopathy is a complication of diabetes that affects the blood vessels that supply the retina. The main complications of diabetes are aneurysm, hemorrhages and cell degeneration, which is the main cause of vision problems associated with diabetes.

The antioxidant effect of lutein and zeaxanthin are important to prevent cell degeneration and increased oxidative stress due to diabetes.

To prevent macular degeneration, degenerative diseases and diabetic retinopathy, the correct management of diabetes and blood glucose levels is necessary.

Lutein and zeaxanthin supplements turn off the processes of oxidative stress and reduce the impact of free radicals, reducing the risk of age-related macular degeneration.

Conclusion

Lutein, zeaxanthin, and meso-zeaxanthin are xanthophyll carotenoids (called macular pigments) that are concentrated in the retina. Their main function is the filtration of blue light, to act as an antioxidant preventing damage from oxidative stress, and to prevent macular degeneration.

Xanthophylls are not produced by the body and must be acquired through diet. Mainly from vegetables such as cabbage, spinach, egg yolk, and broccoli.

Numerous investigations have found sufficient evidence to conclude the importance of lutein and zeaxanthin for visual health as a natural treatment. Xanthophyll supplements can prevent the development of visual diseases such as macular degeneration, diabetic retinopathy, and cataracts.

Richard says: Some 30 years ago I started taking a ginkgo bilolba supplement and a bilberry supplement in addition to the lutein, zeaxanthin and meso-zeaxanthin supplements. Which is what I am now calling a natural treatment for macular degeneration.

Of course, that’s in addition to all the other vitamins, minerals and supplements that are part of my current eating habits.

The Lumi Shield Plus product contains all of those ingredients and more. All together it provides what your eyes need to save and protect your eyesight. Get some!

References

1. Lutein, zeaxanthin, meso-zeaxanthin content in egg yolk and their absence in fish and seafood.

2. Nutritional and clinical relevance of lutein in human health.

3. Macular pigment optical density and photophobia light threshold.

4. The Photobiology of Lutein and Zeaxanthin in the Eye.

5. The Effect of Lutein on Eye and Extra-Eye Health

6. Age-Related Macular Degeneration Overview

7. Lutein, Zeaxanthin, and meso-Zeaxanthin in the Clinical Management of Eye Disease

8. Fruits and vegetables that are sources for lutein and zeaxanthin: the macular pigment in human eyes

9. Intake of Lutein-Rich Vegetables Is Associated with Higher Levels of Physical Activity.

10. Macular pigment response to a supplement containing meso-zeaxanthin, lutein and zeaxanthin.

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