Evidence builds on macular carotenoids' potential in protecting eyes against 'blue light' damage

By Adi Menayang

- Last updated on GMT

iStock / malivoja
iStock / malivoja

Related tags Carotenoid Macular degeneration Macular pigment

A new study backed by ingredient supplier OmniActive Health Technologies elucidated further the mechanism in which macular carotenoids may protect eyes from blue light damage.

For the past several years, OmniActive has invested in research on its branded ingredient Lutemax 2020​ as it relates to eye health, visual performance, and bioavailability, the company’s marketing manager Brian Appell told us.

The ingredient contains “all three macular carotenoids, that’s the lutein, RR-zeaxanthin and RS meso-zeaxanthin,” ​he said. These are found naturally in the eyes, and several studies have noted that a depletion of them is linked to visual impairments.

This new study​, published a few weeks ago in the journal Nutrients ​and authored by researchers affiliated with the universities in China and Cleveland, OH, hinted at the possible mechanisms in which these carotenoids may protect against the damage blue light causes in human vision.

“It’s almost like having a castle wall in front of you, and that wall is being hit by cannon balls. You’re going to be missing that piece of the wall unless you’re replacing the bricks,” ​he explained.

So we’re showing that correlation, that blue light actually will deplete macular pigments, and by supplementing with them you’ll keep levels high enough to protect you over the course of a lifetime.”

Study details and results

The current study was performed on mice exposed to blue light. “We didn’t have the mice stare at an iPad screen all day, but they were living in an environment where there was ambient blue light,”​ Appell said.

Some mice were supplemented with Lutemax 2020, while the others weren’t. They found that, compared to the control group, the supplemented mice had more of their macular carotenoids intact (macular pigment optical density or MPOD).

They also found that decreased macular carotenoids isn’t just caused by oxidative stress, as popularly proposed. ​[The researchers] also looked at the cellular mechanisms or the physical mechanisms that are correlated with performance. They looked at cells in the eye and how they’re performing, and they found that, for animals exposed to blue light, if they’re not protected, there’s a decrease in the performance of those cells. That damage is correlated to vision loss.”

It builds on a human study OmniActive supported last year​, which only looked at the role MPOD’s place on short-term blue light exposure. “What we established here is that blue light over a certain period of time will damage the cells responsible for vision if left unprotected,” ​he added.

Market implications

By using ambient blue light instead of the glare of a screen, Appell said that the study reinforced the ubiquity of blue light.

“It’s not just a digital device, it’s not just your computer that you should be worried about. The biggest source of blue light is still from the sun,” ​he said. “It’s also about the fluorescent lights you're under at work or at home.”

“We’re looking at marketing beyond the 50-and-up age group,” ​he added. “This research confirms that this is something that needs to be supplemented on a broader consumer level at all ages, because of the level of blue light we’re exposed to.”


Source:​ Nutrients
Published online, DOI: 10.3390/nu10070842
“Lutein and Zeaxanthin Isomers Protect against Light-Induced Retinopathy via Decreasing Oxidative and Endoplasmic Reticulum Stress in BALB/cJ Mice”
Authors:​ Yu M, Yan W, Beight C

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