Like the other carotenoids, lutein has been shown to have antioxidant effects. Lutein and zeaxanthin are constituents of the pigment of the eye. A low density of this pigment in the macula of the eye may increase the risk of the disorder macular degeneration, possibly because it permits greater blue light damage.

In a study published in 1997, researchers at Florida International Univer- sity in Miami tested the effects of 30 mg of lutein on eye pigment in two people for a period of 140 days.The results showed that 20 to 40 days after the people started taking the lutein supplement, the density of the pigment in their eyes started to increase. This amount of blue light reaching the vulnerable eye tis- sues that are damaged in macular degeneration was reduced by around 30 to 40 per cent.

LuteinOxidative damage to the lens of the eye is also implicated in the development of cataract, in which the eye lens becomes clouded.

In a 1997 study, researchers at Arizona State University assessed the relationship between carotenoid pigments in the retina of the eye and the density of clouding in the lens. The study involved younger people (ages 24 to 36 years) and older people (aged 48 to 82 years). The results showed that lens density increased with age, and that the increase was related to lower macular pigment carotenoids. These findings open up the possibility that lutein and zeaxanthin may be used to slow down age-related increases in lens density.

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