Macular carotenoids: lutein and zeaxanthin

Dev Ophthalmol. 2005;38:70-88. doi: 10.1159/000082768.

Abstract

The yellow color of the macula lutea is due to the presence of the carotenoid pigments lutein and zeaxanthin. In contrast to human blood and tissues, no other major carotenoids including Beta-carotene or lycopene are found in this tissue. The macular carotenoids are suggested to play a role in the protection of the retina against light-induced damage. Epidemiological studies provide some evidence that an increased consumption of lutein and zeaxanthin with the diet is associated with a lowered risk for age-related macular degeneration, a disease with increasing incidence in the elderly. Protecting ocular tissue against photooxidative damage carotenoids may act in two ways: first as filters for damaging blue light, and second as antioxidants quenching excited triplet state molecules or singlet molecular oxygen and scavenge further reactive oxygen species like lipid peroxides or the superoxide radical anion.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Diet
  • Humans
  • Lutein / chemistry
  • Lutein / physiology*
  • Macula Lutea / physiology*
  • Xanthophylls
  • Zeaxanthins
  • beta Carotene / analogs & derivatives*
  • beta Carotene / chemistry
  • beta Carotene / physiology*

Substances

  • Xanthophylls
  • Zeaxanthins
  • beta Carotene
  • Lutein