Zeaxanthin for Glaucoma
Zeaxanthin is considered an eye vitamin that is found as a yellow pigment in the macula. The antioxidant properties of zeaxanthin help protect the eyes from the harmful effects of light and oxidation-induced damage. Thus, it may have potential benefits in preventing a wide range of eye issues including glaucoma, cataract, age-related macular degeneration, uveitis, and diabetic retinopathy.
In this article, we’ll cover some science-backed benefits and uses of zeaxanthin for glaucoma. But, before we get started with zeaxanthin, it’s important to learn the fundamentals of glaucoma a little bit more.
Table of contents
- What is glaucoma?
- Symptoms of glaucoma
- Causes of glaucoma
- Risk factors of glaucoma
- What is Zeaxanthin?
- How zeaxanthin may help prevent glaucoma
- How to use zeaxanthin
- Precautions and side effects
- Final words
What is glaucoma?
Glaucoma is a set of eye conditions that cause optic nerve damage and lead to vision loss or blindness. The health of optic nerve cells is vital for vision. The most common cause of optic nerve damage is abnormally high pressure in the eyes.
Glaucoma is a leading cause of vision loss for elders. Though it may affect any age group, it is more common in people over the age of 60.
Symptoms of glaucoma
Symptoms of glaucoma widely vary depending on the disease type and severity of the condition. For example:
Symptoms of open-angle glaucoma may include –
- Patchy blind spots
- Tunnel vision in severe cases
Symptoms of acute angle-closure glaucoma may include –
- Eye pain
- Severe headache
- Blurred vision
- Nausea and vomiting
- Eye redness
- Halos around lights
Acute angle-closure glaucoma is an emergency condition that requires immediate medical attention. Glaucoma eventually causes blindness if left untreated.
Causes of glaucoma
Glaucoma results from the damage of optic nerve cells. Though experts don’t fully understand the exact reasons, it has been assumed that optic nerve damage is linked to abnormally increased pressure in the eyes.
Eye pressure can be elevated due to various reasons inside the eye. The most common causes include an overproduced fluid (aqueous humor) or lack of drainage function, the fluid gets clogged and eye pressure increases.
Besides, glaucoma trends to flow in generations. In some cases, researchers identified genes linked to high eye pressure as well as optic nerve damage.
Risk factors of glaucoma
Since chronic forms of glaucoma can attack vision before showing any signs and symptoms, everyone should be aware of these risk factors –
- Being over age 60
- Having an elevated eye pressure
- Being black, Hispanic or Asian
- Having certain health issues such as high blood pressure, sickle cell anemia, heart disease, and diabetes
- Having a family history of high eye pressure or glaucoma
- Being too much nearsighted or farsighted
- Taking corticosteroid eye drops for a long period
- Having an eye injury
- Having had certain types of eye surgery
- Having corneas with a thin center
What is Zeaxanthin?
Zeaxanthin is a carotenoid, also known as tetraterpenoid, which plays a key role in restraining the eyes from the unwanted effects of a wide range of oxidative damages. It’s a yellow organic pigment that gives the characteristic color to many plants and vegetables such as saffron, corn, wolfberry, and pepper.
Zeaxanthin, along with lutein, accumulates in the retina, specifically in the macula portion. Major sources of this dietary carotenoid include egg yolks, yellow fruits, orange, and dark green vegetables like kale, collard greens, spinach, broccoli, and cabbage.
How zeaxanthin may help prevent glaucoma
Studies have found that zeaxanthin, in combination with lutein, has significant effects on glaucoma optic neuropathy. Since oxidative stress is one of the major factors of developing glaucoma, the strong antioxidant properties of zeaxanthin and lutein can represent a reliable solution in the prevention and treatment of glaucoma.
Once entered into the body, zeaxanthin flows towards the macula, the lens, and the fovea (the center region of the retina). Along with lutein, zeaxanthin helps to create a yellow pigment shield that protects eye cells from harmful light sources such as ultraviolet rays (UV rays).
Besides, zeaxanthin and lutein act as powerful antioxidants in the retina and protect the eyes from harmful free radicals. The retina more particularly the macula is essential for vision. Thus, zeaxanthin plays an important role in preventing oxidative stress-related glaucoma and vision loss.
How to use zeaxanthin
Zeaxanthin seems to work better when combined with lutein. Since these 2 organic pigments are the only natural carotenoids that accumulate in the human retina. Together they work better and may combat free radicals more effectively.
According to several studies, 1 mg to 2 mg dietary zeaxanthin along with 6 mg to 20 mg lutein may reduce the risk of developing glaucoma and associated eye disorders.
But the actual dose of zeaxanthin and lutein varies from person to person depending on the body type and the amount of stress it can tolerate. For instance, smokers require more zeaxanthin and lutein compared to non-smokers. Therefore, it’s essential to consult a qualified healthcare provider prior to using zeaxanthin and lutein supplements.
Precautions and side effects
Zeaxanthin with lutein supplementation is considered safe and no adverse effects have been found to date. Although harmless, an individual with fair skin may experience skin yellowing over time especially with high doses.
Breastfeeding and pregnant women should avoid taking zeaxanthin and lutein supplement. People who have any underlying medical issue or taking any medication must consult their healthcare professionals prior to taking zeaxanthin and lutein supplements.
Though a large number of factors are associated, zeaxanthin and lutein have been found effective in reducing the risk of developing glaucoma and improving overall eye health. But certain lifestyle changes such as quitting smoking and eye exercise are also important factors to consider to get the optimum benefits of zeaxanthin and lutein supplements.
Like with all supplements, ask your healthcare provider or consult with an ophthalmologist before using zeaxanthin and lutein supplement to confirm whether this supplement is right for you.
Check out Vorst’s Zeaxanthin with Lutein here.
Disclaimer – This article doesn’t contain any medical advice, hence, cannot be used for any medico-legal purpose.