4 Simple Nutrients That Will Save Your Eyes From Blue Light

July 3, 2020 | Written by Jessie Mckinney & Courtney Pridham, Bsc

The topic of “light” might be trickier than you’d think. When you look at the sun, brighten your home, or stare into your computer screen the light you’re seeing is actually made up of a broad spectrum of different kinds of light, all of which can have effects on your eyes, skin, and overall health. 

Because blue light is so close on the spectrum to ultraviolet light, it has caused alarm for many ophthalmologists and is currently on the radar of numerous eye health studies. In this post, we’ll show you what exactly blue light is, how it affects your vision, and how supplementing these four simple nutrients can protect your eyes from the damaging effects of blue light. (10)

Nutritionist for Your Eyes
Blue Light and Eye Health
One of the most prominent concerns related to blue light exposure is the risk of oxidative damage to the retina and the potential increased risk for macular degeneration. Oxidative damage attacks the necessary formation of nerve and light receptor cell membranes in the eyes, which enables the membranes to function properly. This cycle of oxidative stress can change gene expression and cause consistent retinal injury. (6)

Below we’ll outline some reliable solutions to combining Omega-3’s and carotenoids in order to avoid some of the harmful consequences of blue light exposure.
Combining Omega-3’s and Carotenoids
Lutein, zeaxanthin, and meso-zeaxanthin are pigments of carotenoids that have a known surplus of antioxidant-rich properties. The recommended daily intake of lutein is 6-20 mg/day and of zeaxanthin is 2-4 mg/day, most people on western diets are based on dietary intake and get only 1-2 mg of lutein and less than 1 mg of zeaxanthin daily (1).

Unfortunately the third macular carotenoid, meso-zeaxanthin, which is the most powerful of the three in terms of its antioxidant properties, is not readily found in most foods.   In the original formulation of AREDS, beta carotene was included as the sole carotenoid of the formula, yielding few results and leading to further formulation. The formulation of AREDS-2 found that replacing beta carotene with a combination of lutein and zeaxanthin produced far better results, including an 18% decrease in late age-related macular degeneration, and a 22% decline in blindness-inducing neovascular macular degeneration. (4)

Recent research suggests that supplementing Omega-3’s such as DHA in combination with carotenoids such as can be critical in protecting the retina against blue light. (7)

The fear is that it's causing cumulative damage over a long period, as it passes through the cornea and lens and reaches the retina. One animal study showed blue light can cause toxicity to retina photosensitive cells, which are irreplaceable. The theory is that if it's toxic to animal models then it can be to human beings. (9)

Dr. Fatoumata Yanoga, MD
Blue Light Vision Graphics

These studies have recently influenced the way many ophthalmologists think about carotenoids and the way they recommend dietary supplements to their patients.

Adding Meso-zeaxanthin Shows Increased MPOD
Ophthalmologists recognize the correlation between an abundance of pigmented cells in the macula and the amount of protection provided to the retinal cells. This standard retinal health measure, macular pigment optical density or MPOD, is known as the principal result measure for studies of natural supplements with protective properties. When combined, consistent supplementation of lutein, zeaxanthin, and meso-zeaxanthin can improve retinal health through enhancing the MPOD and creating resistance to the development of age-related macular degeneration. (2)

Increasing the intake of Omega-3’s and carotenoids can help maintain the health of the eye. The 2013 LUTEGA study found that patients with early/mild age-related macular degeneration that were supplemented once- or twice-daily with lutein, zeaxanthin, low-dose Omega-3s (100 mg DHA, 30 mg EPA), and antioxidant nutrients for one year showed significantly improved MPOD, while MPOD was decreased in unsupplemented placebo recipients. (5) Later, a 2016 study proved that supplementing xanthophyll carotenoids (including the combination of lutein, zeaxanthin, and meso-zeaxanthin) consistently correlated with significant increases in MPOD. (8) These benefits were found in patients with macular degeneration as well as within otherwise healthy subjects. Trials using meso-zeaxanthin have shown to produce the greatest increases in MPOD, suggesting that this nutrient is an essential addition to lutein/zeaxanthin supplements for eye health.

The Bottom Line
When blue light strikes the eyes, multiple photochemical reactions occur in the retina causing oxidative damage. This can potentially lead to damaging health effects such as macular degeneration, cataracts, and dry eye. Together, omega-3’s, lutein, zeaxanthin and meso-zeaxanthin are essential nutrients that help benefit our eyes and vision. These nutrients have the capabilities of absorbing blue light which increases the macular pigment optical density and  prevents the development of oxidative stress.
  1. Abdel-Aal, E., Akhtar, H., Zaheer, K., & Ali, R. (2013, April 9). Dietary sources of lutein and zeaxanthin carotenoids and their role in eye health. Retrieved July 08, 2020, from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3705341/
  2. Akuffo et al, K. (n.d.). Sustained Supplementation and Monitored Response With Differing Carotenoid Formulations in Early Age-Related Macular Degeneration. Retrieved from https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/25976647/
  3. Bill Hefner, O. (2015). Warding off the Blues. Retrieved July 08, 2020, from https://www.revieweducationgroup.com/ce/warding-off-the-blues
  4. Chew, E. (2016). Secondary Analyses of the Effects of lutein/zeaxanthin on Age-Related Macular Degeneration Progression: AREDS2 Report No. 3. Retrieved from https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/24310343/
  5. Dawczynski, J. (2013, May 22). Long Term Effects of Lutein, Zeaxanthin and omega-3-LCPUFAs Supplementation on Optical Density of Macular Pigment in AMD Patients: The LUTEGA Study. Retrieved from https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/23695657/
  6. Fischer, D. (2016). Stimulating Axonal Regeneration of Mature Retinal Ganglion Cells and Overcoming Inhibitory Signaling. Retrieved from https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/22293973/
  7. Loskutova, E., Nolan, J., Howard, A., & Beatty, S. (2013, May 29). Macular pigment and its contribution to vision. Retrieved July 08, 2020, from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3725486/
  8. Ma, L. (n.d.). Lutein, Zeaxanthin and Meso-zeaxanthin Supplementation Associated With Macular Pigment Optical Density. Retrieved July 08, 2020, from https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/27420092/
  9. Yanoga, F., MD. (2019, June 13). Does blue light from electronic devices damage our eyes? Retrieved from https://wexnermedical.osu.edu/blog/blue-light-and-vision
  10. Zhao, Z., Zhou, Y., Tan, G., & Li, J. (2018, December 18). Research progress about the effect and prevention of blue light on eyes. Retrieved July 08, 2020, from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6288536/
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