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Astaxanthin for Eye Health

In the US, common eye diseases affect a sizable part of the population. According to the National Eye Institute (NEI), in 2010, 2.1 million Americans had age-related macular degeneration (AMD), 2.7 million had glaucoma, 24.4 million had cataracts, and 7.7 million had diabetic retinopathy. The number of people affected by these diseases is expected to double by 2050.[i]

The impact of today's digital lifestyle on vision

There is growing awareness among consumers of the health implications of overexposure to blue light from digital devices. Studies have suggested that high-energy blue light can contribute to eye fatigue[ii] and other serious diseases such as macular degeneration.[iii],[iv],[v] Although eye diseases have been traditionally associated with older consumers, today's increased use of electronic devices is putting other groups at-risk such as children, adolescents, millennials and healthy adults.

Longevity and increased concern about vision

Nearly all countries around the world are experiencing significant growth in the number of seniors in the population, and this growth is projected to accelerate in the next decades. According to the United Nations, one in eight people worldwide was age 60 years or over in 2015. By 2030, older individuals are projected to account for one in six people globally. By 2050, one in every five people will be aged 60 years or over.[vi] People in this age group are the most affected by common eye diseases.

Nutrition and eye health

Increasing consumer awareness regarding nutrition and the importance of proactive healthy habits is likely to fuel the demand for eye health supplements. More consumers are attempting to take charge of their health. According to the 2017 CRN Consumer Survey on Dietary Supplements, 76 percent of US adults take dietary supplements, an all-time high for supplement usage.[vii] Supplement users are more likely to eat a balanced diet, visit their doctor, and exercise regularly than non-users, suggesting that supplements are perceived as an important proactive-wellness tool.

Antioxidants and vision support

Antioxidants (carotenoids) have a long history of use in eye health products e.g. in the suppression of age-related macular degeneration.[viii] In addition to lutein and zeaxanthin, astaxanthin has emerged as a compound of particular interest due to its superior antioxidant activity.

Astaxanthin: a potent antioxidant

Studies have demonstrated that natural astaxanthin is 6,000 times more powerful than vitamin C, 770 times more powerful than Coenzyme Q10, 100 times more powerful than vitamin E, and five times more powerful than β-carotene in trapping energy from singlet oxygen, one of the most common reactive oxygen species (ROS) found in the body.[ix]

In addition, the way astaxanthin neutralizes harmful ROS/free radicals is gentler on the body’s cells compared to other antioxidants that can be harmful because they may turn into highly reactive molecules themselves.[x] Astaxanthin has numerous additional health benefits that are supported by extensive scientific research, including over 50 human clinical trials and 1400 peer-reviewed papers.[xi]

The science behind astaxanthin for eye health

Astaxanthin supplementation can improve eye health in many different ways as the following scientific findings demonstrate:

·         Improved blood flow in capillaries in the eye[xii]

o   12 mg astaxanthin per day for 4 weeks

·         Improved accommodation amplitude[xiii]

o   5 mg astaxanthin per day for 4 weeks

·         Improved accommodation speed in subjects with eye fatigue[xiv]

o   6 mg astaxanthin per day for 4 weeks

·         Increased critical flicker fusion and sharper visual sensation[xv]

o   6 mg astaxanthin per day for 4 weeks

 

References:


[i] National Eye Institute, The Most Common Eyes Disease: NEI Looks Ahead. 2015, Available at: https://www.flickr.com/photos/nationaleyeinstitute/21997059516/in/album-72157646733299877/
[ii] Bush EM, Gorgels TGMF, van Norren D. Vision Res 1999;39:1233-1247
[iii] Taylor et.al Arch Opthalmol 1992; 110:99-104.
[iv] Roberts. J Photobiol B. 2001; 64: 136-143.
[v] Arnault et al. Plos One 2013; 8: 71398
[vi] United Nations, World Population Prospects: The 2015 Revision, 2015, available at:

https://esa.un.org/unpd/wpp/Publications/Files/Key_Findings_WPP_2015.pdf
[vii] The Council for Responsible Nutrition (CRN). 2017 CRN Consumer Survey on Dietary Supplements. 2017. Available at: https://www.crnusa.org/newsroom/dietary-supplement-usage-increases-says-new-survey habits  
[viii] Richer, Stuart et al., Ophthalmology, 2004, 75, 216-229
[ix] Nishida, Yamashita, Miki. Carotenoid Science, 2007, 11, 16-20.
[x] Beutner et al, Journal of the Science of Food and Agriculture, 2001, 81(6),559-568.
[xi] PubMed. Search performed on 2016-11-17.
[xii] Saito, M. et al. Graefes Arch Clin Exp Ophthalmol, 2012, 250, 239-245  
[xiii] Nagaki, Y. et al. Journal of Traditional Medicines, 2002, 19, 170-173
[xiv] Shiratori, K. et al. Journal of Clinical Therapeutics & Medicines, 2005, 21, 637-650
[xv] Sawaki, K. et al. Journal of Traditional Medicines, 2002, 19, 1-13

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