Current evidence suggests lutein and its isomers play important roles in ocular development in utero and throughout the life span, in vision performance in young and later adulthood, and in lowering risk for the development of common age-related eye diseases in older age. These xanthophyll (oxygen-containing) carotenoids are found in a wide variety of vegetables and fruits, and they are present in especially high concentrations in leafy green vegetables. Additionally, egg yolks and human milk appear to be bioavailable sources. The prevalence of lutein, zeaxanthin, and meso-zeaxanthin in supplements is increasing. Setting optimal and safe ranges of intake requires additional research, particularly in pregnant and lactating women. Accumulating evidence about variable interindividual response to dietary intake of these carotenoids, based on genetic or metabolic influences, suggests that there may be subgroups that benefit from higher levels of intake and/or alternate strategies to improve lutein and zeaxanthin status.
Keywords: carotenoids; cataract; macula; macular degeneration; retinopathy; vision.