Nutrition & Oxidative Stress

August 26, 2017

Nutrition & Oxidative Stress

As high energy light passes through the eye, it is normally filtered to some degree by the lens in our eye, which naturally becomes more and more yellow as we age. Light is also absorbed by any molecules that are yellow chromophores (yellow is the opposite of blue on the color spectrum-- why our lenses have a slight yellow tint). Two molecules in particular are the anti-oxidants (which probably has more meaning now, after understanding oxidative stress) lutein and zeaxanthan, which are yellow in pigment. The body cannot make lutein or zeaxanthan, so it is up to us to consume enough foods to maintain a high level of these molecules in our retinas, where they are specifically deposited in the macula. Maintaining a high macular pigment optical density of lutein and zeaxanthan can lower levels of oxidative stress, and maybe event prevent diseases like AMD and cataracts.

Foods with lutein and zeaxanthan include: kale, spinach, collards, turnip greens, spinach, corn, green peas, broccoli, lettuce, green beans, eggs, and oranges.  

While there is not yet any conclusive medical research to show that supplementing the diet with more leafy greens high in these “yellow antioxidants” will decisively prevent AMD or digital eye strain, it is up to us to connect the dots and do what is best for the health of our eyes, especially when we are bombarding them with more blue light than ever.

Stringham, James M.; Stringham, Nicole T.; O’Brien, Kevin J. 2017. "Macular Carotenoid Supplementation Improves Visual Performance, Sleep Quality, and Adverse Physical Symptoms in Those with High Screen Time Exposure." Foods 6, no. 7: 47.





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