There has been increasing evidence to support the argument that nutrition plays a significant role in both preventing and treating macular degeneration. Meso-zeaxanthin combined with lutein and zeaxanthin comprise the macular pigment. Macular pigment has been shown to prevent the development of macular degeneration.
The development of macular degeneration has also been attributed to oxidative stress in the form of oxidized lipids, particularly polyunsaturated fats. A diet rich in oxidized lipids can cause the accumulation of drusen deposits under the photoreceptors. This accumulation characterizes early-stage maculopathy.
By significantly lowering the presence of polyunsaturated fats in the diet, it is possible to reduce the risk of macular degeneration.
Overexposure to blue light is another variable in the development of macular degeneration. Blue light acts on photosensitizers and promotes the formation of reactive oxygen species in the retina. Macular carotenoids function as a blue light filter. By combining these two attributes, macular pigment provides protection against the effects of blue light.
Meso-zeaxanthin, lutein and zeaxanthin are present in the central three mm of the macula in approximately equal amounts, while the proportions alter in other regions of the retina. In areas removed from the fovea, the amount of meso-zeaxanthin decreases while that of lutein increases.
It is possible to augment the lutein-to-meso-zeaxanthin conversion through the use of dietary supplements. This will increase the chances of developing a meso-zeaxanthin deficiency that will in turn act as a means of preventing macular degeneration.
Those who have a healthy diet will ingest lutein and zeaxanthin mainly through the consumption of green and yellow vegetables and fruits. Lutein and zeaxanthin are also present in lower levels in the fat from milk and meat.
Unfortunately, humans tend consume low levels of meso-zeaxanthin, which directly contributes to the development of a potential deficiency. This potential is greater in those whose bodies lack the ability to synthesize meso-zeaxanthin or have difficulty doing so. The richest source of meso-zeaxanthin comes from the brightly colored egg yolks of hens that are fed the cartenoid. Fish skin is also an excellent source.
In various studies testing the safety of meso-zeaxanthin to prevent and treat macular degeneration, it has shown no observed adverse effects in quantities greater than 200 mg/kg/day. This amount is far more than the doses utilized in dietary supplements, which are lower than 0.5 mg/kg/day.
Meso-zeaxanthin supplements tested on human subjects have been shown to have no affect on renal and liver function, hematological parameters, lipid profile and indicators of inflammation. As a result, the supplement has been confirmed as a safe method in preventing macular degeneration.
In order for a meso-zeaxanthin supplement to be most effective, it is necessary for it to also contain lutein and zeaxanthin. Eye care professionals recommend formulations that contain the above three components as an effective means of preventing the development of macular degeneration for those who are at a high risk of developing the disease.