The Role of Lutein in Eye Health and Nutrition

by: L.A. Fullmer and A. Shao Lutein is a well-known carotenoid found readily in the human diet, serum, and tissues. It is known to many as the eye-protective nutrient and lutein intake has been shown to be inversely associated with ocular diseases such as cataracts and age-related macular degeneration (AMD). Lutein has been shown to be selectively and specifically deposited in ocular tissues, especially in the macula, and plays an important role in maintaining eye health. AMD is a degradation of the central portion of the retina (the macula lutea). It is the principal cause of blindness among people aged 65 and older. Many factors contribute to an increased risk for AMD, including age, cigarette smoking, being of the female sex, light iris color, family history, exposure to sunlight, and poor nutritional status. This study provided a basis for the hypothesis that dietary lutein in general may have a protective effect against AMD. Cataracts are characterized by the presence of an ocular opacity, partial or complete, in one or both eyes. It often impairs vision or causes blindness. The cause is likely due to the oxidation of proteins and subsequent precipitation of these damaged proteins in the lens of the eye. As with AMD, a number of epidemiological studies have reported that lutein intake and serum levels are inversely associated with cataract risk. (Source: Cereal Foods World, September 2001, Vol.46, No.9 | Page. 408-413) The complete article can be downloaded from the files below.