• Vol. 35 No. 11, 821–830
  • 15 November 2006

Macular Carotenoids and Age-related Maculopathy



Lutein (L) and zeaxanthin (Z) are concentrated at the macula, where they are collectively known as macular pigment (MP), and where they are believed to play a major role in protecting retinal tissues against oxidative stress. Whilst the exact pathogenesis of age-related maculopathy (ARM) remains unknown, the disruption of cellular processes by oxidative stress may play an important role. Manipulation of dietary intake of L and Z has been shown to augment MP, thereby raising hopes that dietary supplementation with these carotenoids might prevent, delay, or modify the course of ARM. This article discusses the scientific rationale supporting the hypothesis that L and Z are protective against ARM, and presents the recent evidence germane to this theory.

The macula lutea is an anatomic region of the posterior retina that measures approximately 5.5 mm in diameter, and is exquisitely specialised for sharp central vision. Lutein (L) is a carotenoid, which, along with its stereo isomer zeaxanthin (Z), is concentrated at the macula lutea, to give it its eponymous yellow colour.

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