Associations between lutein, zeaxanthin, and age-related macular degeneration: an overview

Crit Rev Food Sci Nutr. 2009 Apr;49(4):313-26. doi: 10.1080/10408390802066979.


Age-related macular degeneration, the leading cause of blindness in the elderly, is a degenerative condition of the macula characterized by death or dysfunction of the photoreceptors. With the aging population growing, the incidence of age-related macular degeneration is expected to increase. This raises concern about the future of visual dysfunction related falls and the resulting injuries in the elderly population. Lutein and zeaxanthin are macular pigments that may play a role in reducing the development and progression of age-related macular degeneration. Evidence is accumulating on the consumption of lutein and zeaxanthin (in whole food or supplemental form), the resulting concentrations in the serum, and tissue distribution throughout the body, particularly in the retina. Lutein and zeaxanthin intake increases serum concentrations which in turn increases macular pigment density. Existing literature focuses on factors affecting macular pigment density, functions of lutein and zeaxanthin as blue-light filters and antioxidants, and risk factors associated with age-related macular degeneration. Few studies have focused on the impact of dietary lutein and zeaxanthin on retinal function and the potential to preserve vision and prevent further degeneration. This presents an opportunity for further research to determine an effective dose that delays the progression of age-related macular degeneration.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Aging*
  • Animals
  • Antioxidants
  • Diet
  • Dietary Supplements
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Light
  • Lutein / administration & dosage*
  • Lutein / pharmacokinetics
  • Lutein / physiology
  • Macular Degeneration / epidemiology
  • Macular Degeneration / prevention & control*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Retina / chemistry
  • Retina / metabolism
  • Risk Factors
  • Tissue Distribution
  • Xanthophylls / administration & dosage*
  • Xanthophylls / pharmacokinetics
  • Xanthophylls / physiology
  • Zeaxanthins


  • Antioxidants
  • Xanthophylls
  • Zeaxanthins
  • Lutein