|Facts About Lutein and the Eyes
Lutein is the most prevalent carotenoid found in fruits and vegetables. In the body lutein is specifically deposited in the macula portion of the eye where it helps build macular pigment density which is a critical factor in the health of the macula and of the retina. Macular pigment density is related to clarity of the lens of the eye. The body does not synthesize lutein so lutein must come from the diet. Dietary intake of lutein dramatically impacts the concentration found in the macula.
Lutein is a potent antioxidant and researchers believe that the retina requires it for protection from the damaging effects of light and oxygen. Both light and oxygen can create free radicals that play havoc with the abundant lipids in the membranes of the visual cells. Experts believe that the uncontrolled generation of free radicals in the eyes can ultimately lead to macular degeneration and cataracts.
Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is the leading cause of irreversible blindness among Americans age 65 and older, and more than half of all Americans experience cataracts, a clouding of the eye's lens. Preventative measures are important because eye diseases develop over a long period of time, and because there is no cure for AMD, and because cataracts must be surgically removed once vision is impaired.
Diet is important in reducing the risk of developing AMD or cataracts. One recent study found that people who consume plenty of fruits, vegetables, and other nutritious foods or take daily multiple vitamin supplements reduced their risk of developing cataracts by about 37%.