Improvement of retinal function in early age-related macular degeneration after lutein and zeaxanthin supplementation: a randomized, double-masked, placebo-controlled trial

Am J Ophthalmol. 2012 Oct;154(4):625-634.e1. doi: 10.1016/j.ajo.2012.04.014. Epub 2012 Jul 25.


Purpose: To examine the effects of lutein and zeaxanthin supplementation on retinal function using multifocal electroretinograms (mfERG) in patients with early age-related macular degeneration (AMD).

Design: Randomized, double-masked, placebo-controlled trial.

Methods: One hundred eight subjects with early AMD were randomly assigned to receive 10 mg/d lutein (n = 27), 20 mg/d lutein (n = 27), 10 mg/d lutein plus 10 mg/d zeaxanthin (n = 27), or placebo (n = 27) for 48 weeks. Thirty-six age-matched controls without AMD were also enrolled to compare baseline data with early AMD patients. MfERG responses and macular pigment optical densities (MPODs) were recorded and analyzed at baseline and at 24 and 48 weeks.

Results: There were significant reductions in N1P1 response densities in ring 1 to ring 3 in early AMD patients compared with the controls (P < .05), whereas neither N1P1 response densities in ring 4 to ring 6 nor P1 peak latencies significantly changed. After 48-week supplementation, the N1P1 response densities showed significant increases in ring 1 for the 20 mg lutein group and for the lutein and zeaxanthin group, and in ring 2 for the 20 mg lutein group. The increases in MPOD related positively to the increases in N1P1 response density in ring 1 and ring 2 for nearly all active treatment groups. N1P1 response densities in ring 3 to ring 6 or P1 peak latencies in all rings did not change significantly in any group.

Conclusion: Early functional abnormalities of the central retina in the early AMD patients could be improved by lutein and zeaxanthin supplementation. These improvements may be potentially attributed to the elevations in MPOD.

Trial registration: NCT01528605.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Densitometry
  • Dietary Supplements*
  • Double-Blind Method
  • Electroretinography
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Lutein / administration & dosage*
  • Lutein / metabolism
  • Macular Degeneration / drug therapy*
  • Macular Degeneration / metabolism
  • Macular Degeneration / physiopathology
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Retina / physiology*
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Visual Acuity / physiology
  • Xanthophylls / administration & dosage*
  • Xanthophylls / metabolism
  • Zeaxanthins


  • Xanthophylls
  • Zeaxanthins
  • Lutein

Associated data