Steve Myers, Senior Editor

October 23, 2013

2 Min Read
Eye Preservation

The National Federation of the Blind (NFB) estimated 1.75 million people in the United States are legally blindcentral visual acuity of 20/200 or less in the better eye with the best possible correction, or a visual field of 20 degrees or less. However, NFB further noted as many as 10 million Americans are blind or visually impairedincluding some 5.5 million seniorswith 75,000 additional people joining the ranks of blind or visually impaired each year. Given just 1 percent of Americans are born blind, the majority of blindness occurs later in life due to deterioration caused by diseases such as age-related macular degeneration (AMD), glaucoma and diabetes.

To see is to process light. The cornea layer of the eye focuses light through the pupil, lens and vitreous fluid to the retina. An ultra-sensitive layer of photoreceptor cells, the retina absorbs the incoming light and converts it to nerve signals. The optic nerve attached at the back of the eye carries these signals to the brain for further processing and use of the information.

Among the neuronal photoreceptor cells in the retina are the rods and cones. Found more on the periphery of the retina, the rods number in the hundreds of millions and are adept at black and white vision in dimmer environments. There are far fewer cones, about 7 million, which dominate the central retina and handle colors and brighter environments. High-resolution central vision, however, is handled by the macula, a yellow-pigmented area near the center of the retina. Its yellow color comes from its content of the xanthophyll carotenoids lutein and zeaxanthin, and is responsible for the maculas ability to filter blue and ultraviolet (UV) light.

Lutein and zeaxanthin are derived from the diet, found in abundance in dark, leafy greens such as spinach, kale and collards, and moderately plentiful in vegetables such as bell peppers, corn and broccoli. There is mounting evidence that increased consumption of lutein and zeaxanthin improves the macular pigment optical density (MPOD), indicating an important role in preserving vision and supporting retinal function.

Learn more about lutein, zeaxanthin and more ingredients positioned for eye health in INSIDER's Expert Series: Eye Health Science and Market Report.

About the Author(s)

Steve Myers

Senior Editor

Steve Myers is a graduate of the English program at Arizona State University. He first entered the natural products industry and Virgo Publishing in 1997, right out of college, but escaped the searing Arizona heat by relocating to the East Coast. He left Informa Markets in 2022, after a formidable career focused on financial, regulatory and quality control issues, in addition to writing stories ranging research results to manufacturing. In his final years with the company, he spearheaded the editorial direction of Natural Products Insider.

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