Clinical Applications of Astaxanthin in the Treatment of Ocular Diseases: Emerging Insights

Mar Drugs. 2020 May 1;18(5):239. doi: 10.3390/md18050239.


Astaxanthin is a naturally occurring red carotenoid pigment belonging to the family of xanthophylls, and is typically found in marine environments, especially in microalgae and seafood such as salmonids, shrimps and lobsters. Due to its unique molecular structure, astaxanthin features some important biologic properties, mostly represented by strong antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and antiapoptotic activities. A growing body of evidence suggests that astaxanthin is efficacious in the prevention and treatment of several ocular diseases, ranging from the anterior to the posterior pole of the eye. Therefore, the present review aimed at providing a comprehensive evaluation of current clinical applications of astaxanthin in the management of ocular diseases. The efficacy of this carotenoid in the setting of retinal diseases, ocular surface disorders, uveitis, cataract and asthenopia is reported in numerous animal and human studies, which highlight its ability of modulating several metabolic pathways, subsequently restoring the cellular homeostatic balance. To maximize its multitarget therapeutic effects, further long-term clinical trials are warranted in order to define appropriate dosage, route of administration and exact composition of the final product.

Keywords: age-related macular degeneration; astaxanthin; carotenoids; cataract; dry eye disease; eye; glaucoma; nutritional supplements; oxidative stress.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents / administration & dosage*
  • Crustacea*
  • Dietary Supplements
  • Eye Diseases / drug therapy*
  • Humans
  • Marine Biology
  • Xanthophylls / administration & dosage


  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents
  • Xanthophylls
  • astaxanthine