Lutein and zeaxanthin are yellow and red pigments found in yummy vegetables that we eat. Lutein is used in the retina to protect the eye tissue from sun damage. Think of it as an internal layer of sunscreen to protect the center of the vision in the human eye from degenerative aging due to sun exposure.
The molecules of lutein and zeaxanthin are very similar and interchangeable. In scientific research there is strong evidence which shows that a good amount of these pigments in your diet can prevent macular degeneration.
In a study published in the journal Optometry, participants with early macular degeneration improved their night driving and read an average of 1.5 lines lower on the eye chart by taking 8 mg per day of dietary zeaxanthin for one year.
Dietary Sources of lutein and zeaxanthin
Although lutein and zeaxanthin can be purchased as vitamin supplements, the best way to get enough of them is through eating. Eggs florentine anyone? Cooked spinach and chicken egg yolks are two of the best ways of getting lutein and zeaxanthin. Also try kale, broccoli, peas, cantaloupe, corn, carrots, orange/yellow peppers, and egg noodles.
By Sumati Deutscher, O.D.