By Lynda M. Doyle, MS Human Nutrition, Sr. Vice President of Global Marketing, OmniActive Health Technologies
Of the hundreds of carotenoids found in nature and our diet, only three are found in the eye: lutein and the two zeaxanthin isomers – RR-zeaxanthin (3R, 3’R-zeaxanthin) and RS-zeaxanthin (3R, 3’S-RS-zeaxanthin). They are known as “macular carotenoids” because they are found specifically in the macula – the area of the retina responsible for highest visual performance and susceptible to the greatest amount of photo-oxidative damage. The macular carotenoids are preferentially deposited in the macula because they are potent blue light filters and antioxidants to reduce oxidative stress and support visual performance.
From computers, to tablet and smartphone screens, to LED and CFL indoor light sources and even sunlight, our eyes are constantly exposed to harmful high-energy blue light. Prolonged exposure to this type of light is a real concern for everyone— including infants, children, adolescents, millennials and adults—as it increases the risk of eye fatigue, eye strain, and, if left unprotected, the deterioration of visual health. Statistics detailing the magnitude of blue light exposure demonstrates that all age groups are susceptible to its effects:
o By 2020, 90% of all indoor light sources are estimated to be LED/CFL
o More than half of the world now uses a smarphone
o Children 8 to 10 spend about 5.5 hours each day using media, but they’re actually exposed to almost 8 hours of media because they use multiple media simultaneously
o Time spent online by teens (ages 13 to 17) increased 37%, to just over 4 hours per day, compared to 2012
o Adults spend on average 9.5 hours per day in front of media screens
Blue Light And Eye Health: Consequences Of Increasing Exposure
Within the band of visible light, blue light makes up some of the highest energy. Unlike UV-light, which is almost completely absorbed in the outer layers of the eye, blue light penetrates deeper and has the potential to damage retinal structures through photochemical and photo-oxidative reactions. Short-term exposure to blue light can lead to eye fatigue, eye strain and headaches, whereas long-term exposure may lead to gradual loss of visual function. The mechanisms by which blue light damages the eye are multifactorial but primarily mediated through photo-oxidative reactions and the generation of free radicals. Because the retinal to high-energy blue light, they are a primary target of photooxidative damage.
Without adequate protection, increased oxidative stress inactivates a major proteolytic pathway called the ubiquitinproteasome pathway (UPP). The UPP degrades unneeded or damaged proteins in all cells and plays a major role in the regulatory mechanism central to cellular processing, which includes inflammation, immune and stress responses, and antigen processing. A fully functioning UPP is required for cells to cope with various stress, including oxidation. However, extensive oxidative insults, as seen in RPE cells exposed to blue light, can impair UPP, resulting in the accumulation of damaged proteins, dysregulated cell processing and increased inflammation.
The B.LU.E. Study: First Study Of Its Kind To Show The Importance Of Macular Carotenoids During Exposure To Digital Screens And Other Sources Of Blue Light
With increased exposure to high-energy blue light and its implications for visual health, OmniActive Health Technologies sponsored The Blue Light User Exposure (B.L.U.E.) study. The first study of its kind, it examined the relationship between longterm exposure to digital screen use and supplementation with the macular carotenoids. After 6-months, this randomized, doubleblind, placebo-controlled study showed that supplementation with all three carotenoids significantly enhanced visual performance despite prolonged use of digital devices or time spent outdoors.
The B.L.U.E. study is one of several from OmniActive’s ongoing clinical research program showing the numerous benefits of Lutemax 2020, with two most recent studies, LAMA I and II (Lutein and Mental Acuity). The first study – LAMA I – examined the impact Lutemax 2020 has on serum levels and macular pigment optical density (MPOD) at three different doses of 6 mg, 10 mg and 20 mg. MPOD is an indication of the “thickness” of macular carotenoids deposited in the macula and is an important indicator of visual health. Low MPOD is associated with increased risk for age-related macular degeneration (AMD). Conversely, a higher MPOD improves blue light filtering and antioxidant capabilities of the eye while supporting visual performance. After two weeks of supplementation, serum levels of lutein and zeaxanthin isomers increased significantly at all three doses. MPOD increased significantly after eight weeks of supplementation at 10mg and 20mg of Lutemax 2020 doses. Finally, increase in MPOD from the three macular carotenoids from Lutemax 2020 resulted in a “normalization” of the spatial profile – a term used to describe the distribution of lutein and zeaxanthin in the macula – with higher levels of deposition in the center of the macula, which is most sensitive to photo-oxidative damage. Taken together, LAMA I shows that Lutemax 2020 rapidly increases MPOD and improves the spatial profile to support its basic functions of blue light filtration and antioxidant protection.
LAMA II expanded upon LAMA I to examine the relationship between higher MPOD and visual performance. Within 6-months of supplementation, Lutemax 2020 significantly increased MPOD and also improved markers of visual performance, including contrast sensitivity, glare performance and photostress recovery. Taken together, these three studies demonstrate that increasing MPOD and improving the spatial profile are important for protecting the eyes and supporting visual function for a lifetime. And, for the first time, supplementing with all three macular carotenoids as found in Lutemax 2020 was shown to protect the eyes against the effects of long-term exposure to high-energy blue light emitted from digital screens and time spent outdoors.
Lutemax 2020 – A Balanced Macular Carotenoid Matrix To Protect Against Blue Light
While lutein is well known for its benefits for the eyes, visual health requires all three macular carotenoids. OmniActive’s Lutemax 2020 is a complete macular carotenoid formula containing lutein and the two zeaxanthin isomers – RR-zeaxanthin (3R,3’R-zeaxanthin) and RS-zeaxanthin (3R, 3’S-RS-zeaxanthin) – in a balanced 5:1 ratio as found naturally in the diet. Multiple studies with Lutemax 2020 demonstrated rapid retinal uptake and increase in MPOD in as little as eight weeks. Additionally, Lutemax 2020 is produced under a fully vertically integrated supply chain, which means OmniActive controls the entire process from seed development and cultivation of the marigold flowers to finished ingredients. Built-in redundancies across the operation guarantee a consistent supply of high quality ingredient. Using OmniActive’s oil suspension and OmniBead technologies, OmniActive’s Lutemax 2020 formulations are highly stable and offer formulators a wide range of specifications to cover all product development needs.
Lutemax 2020 and OmniBead are trademarks of OmniActive Health Technologies, Ltd