The protective properties of lutein or zeaxanthin resemble those of Vitamin E according to a recent study. The study adds to growing evidence supporting the major role of lutein and zeaxanthin in eye health, with a particular emphasis on their role against age-related macular degeneration - the most common cause of blindness for individuals over 55 years of age in the Western world.
Findings indicated that the highest average levels of lutein and zeaxanthin were associated with a 42 and 41% reduction in the risk of the development compared with the lowest levels.
The research method included taking cells from the human lens and soaking them in a lutein, zeaanthin or alpha-tocopherol solution for 48 hours before exposing them to the oxidizing compound hydrogen peroxide for one hour. The various markers of oxidative stress, DNA damage and cell viability were then all measured.
Results showed that damage to the cells taken from the human lens was reduced dramatically when incubated with lutein, zeaxanthin, and alpha-tocopherol.
"These data indicate that lutein or zeaxanthin supplementation protects lens protein, lipid, and DNA from oxidative damage and improves intracellular redox status upon oxidative stress," wrote the researchers.
"The protective effects are comparable to that of alpha-tocopherol, except that lutein and zeaxanthin cannot compensate for GSH depletion. The data imply that sufficient intake of lutein and zeaxanthin may reduce the risk for senile cataract via protecting the lens from oxidative damage."
Study: "Lutein and zeaxanthin supplementation reduces H2O2-induced oxidative damage in human lens from oxidative damage"