Lutein for Eye Health

Lutein for Eye Health

Posted on Nov.05, 2018, under Educational

Lutein is a powerful antioxidant with its name derived from the Latin word luteus which means yellow.  It is the yellow pigment found in foods like carrots, squash, corn, spinach and kale.  Oxidation and free radical damage contribute to many degenerative diseases including macular degeneration and cataracts.  The benefits of lutein are not limited to just our eyes it can also can contribute to better health for our brain, skin and heart.


Lutein and Macular Degeneration

Lutein is one of three carotenoids that is found in the macular pigment (MP), a critical area of the retina that helps to protect the eyes from oxidative stress caused by free radicals. Concentrations of zeaxanthin and meso-zeaxanthin are also found in the MP.  Macular pigment density can be increased through diet or dietary supplements and the thickness or density of the MP can be measured and used to assess one’s retinal health.


“The present study demonstrates that lutein supplementation increases MPOD (macular pigment optical density), as assessed with an objective method. The correlation between the change in MPOD and the change in VA (visual acuity) and MDLT (mean differential light threshold) indicates that patients who show a pronounced increase in MPOD also benefit in terms of visual function.”

Effects of Lutein Supplementation on Macular Pigment Optical Density and Visual Acuity in Patients with Age-Related Macular Degeneration October 2011 Volume 52, Issue 11


Lutein for the Lens of the Eye

The ocular health benefits of this antioxidant are also found in the lens of the eye. Free radical damage from UV light, smoking and aging contribute to the development of both macular degeneration and cataracts.  Cataracts cause a clouding of the lens and develop from changes in the proteins and fibers found in the lens. The conclusion of a prospective observational study reported on in January 2008 from a large cohort of female health professionals stated, “higher dietary intakes of lutein/zeaxanthin and vitamin E from food and supplements were associated with significantly decreased risks of cataract.”

Archives of Ophthalmology Vol. 126 No. 1, January 2008


Lutein Rich Food

You will find this carotenoid in a variety of fruits and vegetables.  The best sources include spinach, kale, turnip greens, collards, broccoli, corn, romaine lettuce, peas and brussel sprouts.  Lutein is fat soluble which means it needs some healthy fat to be absorbed and utilized by the body. Add some organic extra-virgin olive oil to your steamed vegetables or fresh salad. Check out some other ways to add this eye healthy antioxidant to your daily meals.

Foods High In Lutein

Leslie Degner, RN, BSN