Macular Degeneration and Macular Pigment

The macular pigment (MP) is found in the macula - the center of the retina with the highest concentration found in the fovea (the center of the macula). It is made up of two pigments or carotenoids, which are phytochemicals found in plants.

The two main carotenoids are lutein and zeaxanthin. They are responsible for protecting the eye from the harmful effects of free radicals and for protecting the eye from the damaging effects of blue light. Lutein is the main carotenoid in the peripheral retina, making up 67% or greater of the MP. Zeaxanthin is the main carotenoid in the central macula making up to 75% of the MP.

Increasing the concentration of these pigments in the eye may help prevent age-related macular degeneration.

Measuring the density of the macular pigment has been the subject of many clinical trials. It has been found that MP can be increased with diet and/or dietary supplements of lutein and zeaxanthin. The body however cannot make these carotenoids.

Macular Degeneration Research - Macular Pigment

As of this writing there are 26 studies worldwide researching the supplementation of lutein and zeaxanthin and its effect on MP.

The Macular Pigment Density Evolution in Unilateral Wet AMD Versus Non AMD Patients in Grenoble and Lyon, France are studying two groups of patients. One group of patients have wet macular degeneration in one eye. The other group has had cataract surgery but no retinal disease. Half of each group will take a supplement called Nutrof Total - 2 capsules per day,during 8 months (5 mg Lutein + 1 mg ZĂ©axanthin / capsule).

The other half will take a dietary food supplement without lutein and zeaxanthin.

The study will analyze and compare the macular pigment density in patients who underwent cataract operation 1 month prior, who do not have macular degeneration to patients with wet macular degeneration in one eye. The density and the evolution of the density of macular pigment in the non-exudative eye will be studied.

Study results are expected in June 2012.

Find out how these important carotenoids play an important role in macular degeneration and cataract prevention:

Lutein for the Eyes

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Leslie Degner, RN, BSN

Better Health for Better Vision