These Eye-Critical Carotenoids Can Help Prevent Vision Loss As You Age
Eye longevity is an important aspect of healthy aging. From glaucoma to cataracts, there are a number of eye conditions that can impact your vision in myriad ways as you age.
As the leading cause of vision loss and blindness, age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is one such disease—and researchers have discovered it’s more prevalent than they previously believed. According to a 2022 JAMA Ophthalmology study, AMD affects a whopping 20 million Americans1 over the age of 40.
What is age-related macular degeneration?
Caused by damage to a part of the retina called the macula, AMD results in blurred central vision that makes it difficult to perform everyday tasks.
Evidence suggests age-related macular degeneration is caused by oxidative stress and inflammation. Thankfully, these can be addressed (and prevented) with vision-critical nutrients—i.e., those that scavenge free radicals and promote healthy inflammatory pathways. Enter: Carotenoids.
Vision longevity nutrients that help prevent AMD
Carotenoids are red, orange, and yellow pigments that plants produce. Xanthophylls are a specific category of carotenoids with neuroprotective and antioxidant actions.
Three in particular—lutein, zeaxanthin, and astaxanthin—are especially beneficial in protecting the eyes from oxidative damage and eye diseases.
Lutein & zeaxanthin help:
- Reduce neovascular AMD risk2
- Protect the retina and lens from eye aging
- Delay the progression of AMD3
- Stop oxidative stress and inflammation from causing new blood vessels to grow into the eye and leak (a condition called choroidal neovascularization)
- Increase antioxidant actions in the eye tenfold4
Getting more of these vital eye nutrients can help prevent vision loss and reduce overall AMD risk.
How to increase your carotenoid intake
The body doesn’t make carotenoids endogenously (i.e., on its own), so you need to consume them via:
- Foods containing lutein and zeaxanthin (leafy greens, green peas, orange peppers, eggs) and astaxanthin (salmon, lobster, algae, shrimp)
- A quality supplement that contains efficacious doses of lutein (10 milligrams), zeaxanthin (2 milligrams), and astaxanthin (6 milligrams)—you can find mindbodygreen’s favorite eye longevity supplements here
Life-altering eye diseases can be prevented with the right nutritional tools. Consider increasing your intake of key vision-longevity carotenoids (via food and/or supplementation) to enhance your ocular function and ensure your eyesight remains in tip-top shape for years to come.
Morgan Chamberlain is a supplement editor at mindbodygreen. She graduated from Syracuse University with a Bachelor of Science degree in magazine journalism and a minor in nutrition. Chamberlain believes in taking small steps to improve your well-being—whether that means eating more plant-based foods, checking in with a therapist weekly, or spending quality time with your closest friends. When she isn’t typing away furiously at her keyboard, you can find her cooking in the kitchen, hanging outside, or doing a vinyasa flow.