Taking lutein for eyes can have a string of benefits. Not only can it help to prevent and delay the progression of numerous age-related eye diseases, but it has the power to improve your eyesight even if your eyes are healthy.
Why Is Lutein Needed?
As you age, ongoing damage from sun exposure and free radical formation can have a negative impact on your eyes. This leads to conditions such as age-related macular degeneration and cataracts. These kinds of conditions can cause vision loss and eventual blindness.
Lutein, a nutrient found a variety of green vegetables, may be able to help keep your eyes functioning better for longer. Not only that, taking lutein for eyes can help improve your eyesight even if you don't have any vision problems.
Good sources of lutein for eyes include eggs, orange juice, kiwi, squash, zuchini… the list goes on
How Does It Work?
Lutein is a nutrient in the carotenoid class, which includes the more well-known beta-carotene. It is an antioxidant, meaning it prevents against oxidative damage caused by free radicals. It does this most effectively in the macula. The macula is responsible for visual sensitivity, meaning any damage done to it can cause significant visual impairment.
By protecting and enhancing the macula, taking Lutein for eyes not only prevents the onset and progression of various eye diseases, it also enhances your vision if your eyes are healthy.
The Benefits Of Taking Lutein For Eyes
Lutein For Macular Degeneration
If you take in lutein daily through your diet, you can delay, and even prevent, the onset of macular degeneration.
If you have already developed macular degeneration, lutein can be a helpful tool in treating it. In a placebo-controlled double-blind study of lutein as a treatment for macular degeneration, the people taking lutein significantly improved their vision.
Lutein For Cataracts
Lutein is also helpful in the prevention and treatment of cataracts. Cataracts typically develop due to chronic light exposure, especially ultraviolet light. Lutein acts as a natural sunblock, preventing your eyes from taking in too much light. This reduces the amount of light damage your eyes receive, which prevents cataracts from forming.
Taking lutein daily over an extended period of time may improve your vision if you're already suffering from cataracts. Lutein is also being used in the treatment of retinitis pigmentosa, an inherited eye disorder that causes progressive loss of vision.
Enhanced Vision For Healthy Eyes
Lutein isn't just great for disease prevention. It can help your healthy eyes function even better. It does this the same way it protects your eyes against cataracts. If your eyes are exposed to sudden bright light, they become overwhelmed. That is why you will tend to squint if the light is too bright.
Taking lutein for your eyes prevents all of that light from making it into your retina, which will prevent the discomfort of photophobia and allow you to see through the glare.
Finally, lutein can shorten the amount of time it takes for your eyes to recover after you've been exposed to bright light. This can be especially important during night driving, when you need to be visually aware of your surroundings and often encounter the bright flashes of other driver's headlights.
Lutein Dosage – How Much Lutein Should You Take For Your Eyes?
Although there isn't yet a standard recommended dose in terms of intake of lutein for eyes alone, the available evidence suggests that you should take in at least 6 mg of lutein each day from dietary sources to effectively reduce your chances of developing macular degeneration or cataracts.
If you want to take lutein to treat macular degeneration, you should get at least 12 mg daily from food sources. If you're using it to treat cataracts, the dose increases to 15 mg per day.
Lutein works gradually so it is usually necessary to take the recommended dosage for at least one year if you have MD and two years if you have cataracts. If you want to get the most out of lutein, make sure to eat it with some dietary fat. The presence of fat increases the amount of lutein that your body absorbs.
Lutein Sources In Food
Lutein is found most prominently in green vegetables, especially spinach, broccoli, kale and brussels sprouts.
One cup of kale can provide over 40 mg of lutein. A cup of spinach provides over 20 mg. Eggs can also be a good source of lutein. Although most eggs only carry a small amount of lutein, approximately 0.3 mg per egg, the bioavailability of lutein is greatly increased due to the other nutrients found in them. Additionally, some eggs are now modified to contain more lutein.
Other good sources of lutein include corn, kiwi fruit, squash, orange juice and zucchini.
Lutein supplements are available for use in both capsule and softgel form. In most cases one capsule or softgel contains 20 mg of lutein, though 5 mg, 10 mg, 25 mg and 30 mg formulations are available as well.
Taking a lutein supplement for eyes is is typically inferior to obtaining lutein from dietary sources, especially when it comes to bioavailability.
Your body may have trouble absorbing supplement type lutein. Furthermore, lutein from supplements lacks other helpful and healthy nutrients that are typically present in foods associated with high lutein levels.
That doesn't mean that lutein supplements can't be helpful. The best thing to do is try to get enough lutein through your diet each day. On days where this is not possible, you can use a lutein supplement to bridge the gap.
Concerns and Considerations
The drawback of taking lutein supplements for eyes is a lack of definitive studies on its long-term safety. The few studies that do exist suggest that taking high doses of a lutein supplements for a long period of time may increase your risk of developing lung cancer, particularly if you are also a smoker.
This is only a concern if you are taking over 20 mg of lutein supplements daily, yet another good reason for you to try and get most of the necessary lutein through food intake.
Taking dietary sources of lutein for eyes does not increase lung cancer risk and does not appear to have any short or long term complications. As with most other nutrients, lutein side effects are easily avoided when you choose to increase your dietary intake of the nutrient rather than take supplements.
Where to Learn More
Lutein isn't the only nutrient that is good for your eyes. There are dozens more. You can read about some of these on this site (check out the related articles below), but if you are serious about improving your eyesight, then the best place to get started is here – by reading my article on how to improve eyesight naturally.