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Supplemental Carotenoids and Photostress Recovery

Friday, December 15, 2017

The dietary carotenoids lutein, zeaxanthin, and the zeaxanthin isomer meso-zeaxanthin are found in high concentrations in the macular retina. They are collectively known as macular pigment.

The location of their respective areas of deposition is highly specific: lutein is the dominant carotenoid in the peripheral macula, with the zeaxanthins in the mid-peripheral macula, and at the center of the macula.

A double-masked, placebo-controlled study published in Eye and Vision looked a three groups of young men for 12 months (59 healthy volunteers) who were supplementing their daily diet with either (one)10 mg lutein, and one mg zeaxanthin and one mg of meso-zeaxanthin, (2) a placebo, or (3) 20 mg lutein, and two mg zeaxanthin and two mg meso-zeaxanthin.

“The purpose of this investigation was to examine more closely the dynamics of photostress recovery by challenging subjects with repeated disability glare exposure within a single trial.”

The lead study author, James Stringham, PhD, and his esteemed macular carotenoid expert team at the University of Georgia, Athens, including Kevin O’Brien, PhD, and Nicole Stringham, PhD, reported, “The special arrangement of lutein, zeaxanthin and meso-zeaxanthin illustrates a relationship between antioxidant capacity and metabolic demand, which increases dramatically near the center of the fovea.

"Indeed, meso-zeaxanthin is the most potent antioxidant of the three, followed by zeaxanthin, which is twice as potent as lutein in quenching reactive oxygen species associated with prolonging the onset, or delaying the progression of degenerative changes.

“In terms of visual performance, macular pigment optical density appears to impact outcome measures that are particularly dependent on metabolic processes, including dark adaption, contrast sensitivity, and temporal vision.  

"Due to its location being anterior to the photoreceptors and its yellow-orange coloration, most of the previous research involving macular carotenoids and visual performance has involved the short-wavelength filtering properties of macular pigmen."

The study author’s conclusion

“It is clear that increases in macular pigment optical density lead to significant improvements in photostress times and disability glare thresholds.

"This finding is important in considering the demands placed upon vision in bright light situations and could plausibly be suggestive of potential improvements in overall outdoor visual performance and safety during bright lighting conditions (driving at night while facing oncoming headlights). 

"Based on our findings, it appears that disability glare and photostress recovery may be derived from different characteristics of macular pigment; they may involve both the optical filtering and biochemical antioxidant properties of macular pigment."

Ellen Troyer, with Spencer Thornton, MD, David Amess and the Biosyntrx staff


The ability of macular pigment density to influence the visual physiology of the retina and impact parameters of visual performance such as dark adaption and contrast sensitivity has only become appreciated recently and this certainly applies to chromatic contrast and vision through blue haze.  

The Biosyntrx often-stated commitment to peer-reviewed science and education supports again, our decision to speak to this well-designed and important study. Sharing scientific information of this sort supports our global quest to improve overall quality of life for this and future generations. 

We are passionately committed to doing everything we can to encourage healthy lifestyle choices that lower the risk and expense of frequently preventable degenerative changes.

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