Lutein (LOO-teen) is a carotenoid found in vegetables and fruits. Lutein acts as an antioxidant, protecting cells against the damaging effects of free radicals.
• Lutein is not made in the body.
• Lutein must be obtained from food or vitamin supplements.
• Lutein is found in large amounts in green, leafy vegetables such as spinach. Lutein in the diet can play a role in maintaining healthy eyes.
• Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is the leading cause of irreversible blindness among Americans age 65 and older.
• More than half of all Americans experience cataracts, a clouding of the eye's lens.
Preventative measures are important because eye diseases develop over a long period of time. By the time patients are diagnosed with AMD in their 60's or 70's, the disease may have been developing for 20 years or more.
Research shows that dietary carotenoids such as lutein may benefit vision in a number of ways:
• Lutein and zeaxanthin help build macular pigment density, a critical factor in the health of the macula and the retina.
• Research suggests that persons who eat high amounts of fruits and vegetables experience the lowest incidence of cataracts.
• Macular pigment density is related to clarity of the lens of the eye.