A randomized placebo-controlled study on the effects of lutein and zeaxanthin on visual processing speed in young healthy subjects

Arch Biochem Biophys. 2015 Apr 15;572:54-57. doi: 10.1016/j.abb.2014.11.012. Epub 2014 Dec 4.


Speed of processing is a particularly important characteristic of the visual system. Often a behavioral reaction to a visual stimulus must be faster than the conscious perception of that stimulus, as is the case with many sports (e.g., baseball). Visual psychophysics provides a relatively simple and precise means of measuring visual processing speed called the temporal contrast sensitivity function (tCSF). Past study has shown that macular pigment (a collection of xanthophylls, lutein (L), meso-zeaxanthin (MZ) and zeaxanthin (Z), found in the retina) optical density (MPOD) is positively correlated with the tCSF. In this study, we found similar correlations when testing 102 young healthy subjects. As a follow-up, we randomized 69 subjects to receive a placebo (n=15) or one of two L and Z supplements (n=54). MPOD and tCSF were measured psychophysically at baseline and 4months. Neither MPOD nor tCSF changed for the placebo condition, but both improved significantly as a result of supplementation. These results show that an intervention with L and Z can increase processing speed even in young healthy subjects.

Keywords: CFF; Lutein; Visual processing speed; Zeaxanthin.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Contrast Sensitivity / drug effects*
  • Contrast Sensitivity / physiology*
  • Female
  • Healthy Volunteers*
  • Humans
  • Lutein / metabolism
  • Lutein / pharmacology*
  • Macula Lutea / drug effects
  • Macula Lutea / metabolism
  • Male
  • Placebos
  • Time Factors
  • Young Adult
  • Zeaxanthins / metabolism
  • Zeaxanthins / pharmacology*


  • Placebos
  • Zeaxanthins
  • Lutein