There are three main pigments (carotenoids) that form a yellow spot in the macular
(central retina) called the macular pigment. It is made of lutein,zeaxanthin and
meso-zeaxanthin - which are used in nutrition supplements to improve or protect sight.
This macular pigment has two main functions - it acts as an antioxidant and filters
light - which reduces the damaging effects of light. Therefore the macular pigment
is very important to protect against diseases especially macular degeneration.
How can I improve Macular Pigment in my eye ?
Aim is to increase the three carotenoids - these are naturally occuring plant pigments
and are present in food for us to eat.
Foods that contain two of the three carotenoids, lutein and zeaxanthin include :
nuts, berries, spinach, kale and green leafy vegetables, blueberries, grapes, eggs,
cold water fish, papaya, garlic, onions, soy and virgin olive oil.
The other carotenoid is called meso-zeaxanthin. Research has shown that meso-zeaxanthin
is generated at the retina from lutein, but some people may not be able to do this
It may be found in some seafood like sea bass and trout, and is more concentrated
in the skin of fish but is still in small amounts.
Benefits of eye supplements
The Macular Pigment Research Group (at Waterford Institute of Technology in Ireland)
has found that all three pigments lutein, zeaxanthin and meso-zeaxanthin, are needed
for increase in macular pigment density. They may reduce progression of macular degeneration
but needs to be at higher levels than perhaps possible from our diet alone.
The only supplement currently on the market that contains all three carotenoids at
optimum level is Macushield. No other supplement contains meso-zeaxanthin with
lutein and zeaxanthin.
Therefore recommended for patients with macular degeneration or family history of
ARMD as there is a genetic link. Research suggests that Macushield containing meso-zeaxanthin
gives a far greater response than with just lutein alone.
A recent survey has shown that macular degeneration improvement was highest amongst
practices using Macushield (Loughman L (2011) AMD research study for optometrists:
current practice in the Republic of Ireland and UK. Optometry in Practice. 12 (4):
Maintaining Healthy Eyes
There are other steps you can take to keep your eyes healthy.
Try to eat at least five portions of fruit and vegetables a day, especially the ones
Smoking is a risk factor for macular degeneration.
Try to wear protective sunglasses or lenses when you are in bright light.
Try to maintain a low fat diet as cholesterol/fat can form deposits in the blood
vessels, including the macula , which may increase risk of macular degeneration.
Macular degeneration is a genetic eye disease which means that if any parents, siblings
or children have it, then you have may be at a higher risk . It is advisable to take
the preventive measures listed above. It may be worth taking Macushield that contains
the three essential carotenoids that make the macular pigment.
Taking dietary supplements do not replace a healthy diet though but if your diet
is poor or due to ill health, then Macushield may help. Worth consulting your Doctor
before trying any vision supplements just in case of health issues.
How does Macular Pigment help the eye ?
It acts as an antioxidant which absorbs unstable molecules called free radicals that
otherwise can damage tissues. These are linked to ageing.
Blue light has more photon energy than red or green light and can cause more damage.
The macular pigment can act as a filter and reduce the damaging effect of the blue
light. Increasing macular pigment strength with Macushield and diet can help.