Protect Your Eyes Against Vision Loss
April 2024 Issue

Protect Your Eyes Against Vision Loss

Smart phones, high blood sugar, and UV light damage eye tissues and lead to vision loss. Clinical studies reveal simple measures to better preserve ocular health.

Scientifically reviewed by: Amanda Martin, DC, in April 2024. Written by: Joseph Licht.

Every day, your eyes are bombarded by various harmful biologic and environmental factors.

Ultraviolet light, oxidative stress, and high blood sugar are among the most damaging causes of premature ocular disorders.1

Two carotenoid pigments, lutein, and zeaxanthin, protect eye tissues from multiple types of injury.2-6

Humans cannot make carotenoids.7 Modern diets don't always provide enough for optimal protection.8,9

The importance of lutein and zeaxanthin cannot be overlooked.

They are capable of guarding against drivers of age-related visual loss, including macular degeneration, diabetic retinopathy, cataracts, and glaucoma.10-14

Intake of abundant amounts of a range of carotenoids is one of the healthiest proactive steps you can take to maintain vision.

Support Healthy Vision

Eyes actively take up lutein and zeaxanthin, concentrating these carotenoids in the retina and other ocular areas.15-18

Carotenoids serve multiple purposes. For one, they filter out potentially harmful wavelengths of light, capturing their energy and safely dissipating it.2-6

Light rays are a form of electromagnetic radiation that can inflict significant damage.

Lutein and zeaxanthin protect against the oxidative damage and inflammation that contribute to chronic eye disease, including cataracts and macular degeneration.19,20

Oral intake of lutein and zeaxanthin has been shown to boost their content in the eyes, protecting against common age-related disorders that cause vision loss.

Age-Related Macular Degeneration

The macula is the most important part of the retina. It is where most photoreceptors reside and is responsible for crisp, high-resolution vision.

When consumed in adequate amounts, lutein and zeaxanthin build an effective barrier in a layer of the retina called the retinal pigment epithelium. There they help filter out harmful blue light while reducing oxidative stress and inflammation.2

These effects may help prevent the development of macular degeneration.

One study conducted over more than 20 years found that people with the highest intake of lutein and zeaxanthin have a stunning 41% lower risk of advanced macular degeneration.21

n clinical studies, older adults who already have macular degeneration, taking lutein and zeaxanthin has been shown to slow its progression and improve visual function, including:11,16,17,22,23

  • Reducing nighttime glare,
  • Improving visual contrast, and
  • Boosting visual acuity (sharpness).

Poor night vision is a common early warning sign of macular degeneration.24 In a clinical trial of older adults with poor night vision, daily intake of a lutein-zeaxanthin blend improved multiple markers of nighttime visual function.25


Cataract is clouding of lens that is common in older individuals. Diabetes, smoking and ultraviolet rays from sunlight exposure are also associated with cataract formation.26 This impedes vision and is the leading cause of vision loss in the United States.27

Carotenoids can filter out harmful light in the lens. Studies have found that individuals with a higher intake of lutein have lower rates of cataracts.13


Glaucoma can damage the optic nerve, leading to vision loss and blindness in older adults. It is an abnormality of the drainage system of the eyes that causes excess pressure in the eyes due to fluid retention.

A higher dietary intake of carotenoids, including lutein and zeaxanthin, is associated with a lower risk of glaucoma.

In human studies a protective trend observed in individuals consuming higher dietary carotenoids had lower risk of glaucoma.14 In clinical studies of glaucoma patients, oral intake of carotenoids helps protect against the progression of visual loss and improves visual performance.14,28,29


Lutein and Zeaxanthin Guard Against Eye Damage

  • Oxidative stress, elevated blood sugar, and ultraviolet light from the sun can damage the eyes.
  • With increasing age, damage from these factors accumulates and can lead to eye disease and vision loss.
  • Carotenoid pigments can protect against these factors. They can only be obtained through diet or direct oral intake.
  • Studies show that higher intake of the carotenoids lutein and zeaxanthin improves visual function and helps reduce the development and progression of macular degeneration, cataracts, glaucoma, and other disorders.

Diabetic Eye Disease

Diabetic retinopathy, eye disease resulting from poor blood glucose control, has become one of the most common causes of vision loss.

Patients with diabetic eye disease typically have lower levels of lutein and zeaxanthin than healthy adults. In these patients, taking carotenoids improves visual function, boosting visual clarity and contrast.14,30

Digital Eye Strain

LED lights and screens emit much more harmful blue light than natural sunlight.31

While most eye damage accumulates over time, chronic long exposure to digital screens can also cause short-term symptoms known as digital eye strain.32

These symptoms may include blurred vision, headaches, dry eyes, neck, shoulder, and back pain. An estimated 6 out of 10 people in the U.S. suffer from some of these symptoms.32

Lutein and zeaxanthin act as a blue light filter in the eyes, safely absorbing the wavelengths associated with long hours spent looking at digital displays.3-5


Oral intake of carotenoids can help reduce the risk of long-term vision loss and eye disease, and protect the eyes from modern digital eye strain.

Free radical stress, high blood sugar, and ultraviolet light damage eye tissues and can lead to vision loss.

Consumed orally, the carotenoids lutein and zeaxanthin are taken up by eye tissues to act as shields against these damaging factors.

Studies show that increasing levels of these carotenoids can improve visual function while defending against the development and progression of macular degeneration, cataracts, glaucoma, and other eye diseases.

If you have any questions on the scientific content of this article, please call a Life Extension® Wellness Specialists at 1-866-864-3027.


Other nutrients can support eye health, including:
Astaxanthin, a carotenoid responsible for the reddish-pink coloration of salmon, flamingos, and crustaceans. It has been found to have protective effects in the eyes and may help prevent the progression of eye disease.33,34
Saffron, a spice that has been used for centuries if not longer, for various ailments. It improves visual function and can help improve symptoms of macular degeneration.35,36


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