Over the past few years I’ve spent long weeknights and weekends glued to the LCD fishing for clinical pearls, as it were, for the GreenMedInfo.com project. Admittedly, my eyes have been getting a bit "fried," so I’ve been crossing my fingers in the hopes of finding something that can help reduce the damage associated with long-term exposure. I know I'm not alone here, as millions of folks out there are facing the same challenge, which makes me even happier to report that I have finally found something truly "evidence-based" that may help!
In the study above, 37 healthy subjects (ages 22-30) with long-term computer display light exposure received either 6 mg lutein/day, 12 mg lutein/day or a placebo. The 12 mg a day group saw a trend towards increased visual acuity, with contrast sensitivity increasing in the 6 and 12 mg a day groups, with "statistical significance" reached at most visual angles in the 12 mg a day group. The researchers concluded "Visual function in healthy subjects who received the lutein supplement improved, especially in contrast sensitivity, suggesting that a higher intake of lutein may have beneficial effects on the visual performance."
A bit about lutein…
Lutein comes from the Latin word luteus meaning "yellow," and is one of the best known carotenoids in a family containing at least 600. In the human eye it is concentrated in the retina in an oval-shaped yellow spot near its center known as the macula (from Latin macula, "spot" + lutea, "yellow"). This "yellow spot" acts as a natural sunblock, which is why adequate consumption of lutein and zeaxanthin (another yellow carotenoid) may prevent macular degeneration and other retinal diseases associated with ultraviolet light-induced oxidative stress.
Keep in mind that the egg (which resembles the mammalian eye) has a wide range of nutrients within the yolk that are ideally suited to support eye health, including vitamin A, E (including tocotrienols), Omega-3 fatty acids, as well as lutein and zeaxanthin.
Kale is also an exceptionally rich in lutein, zeaxanthin and related eye friendly carotenoids. One cup of raw kale contains 26.5 mg of Lutein+Zeaxanthin – which would cost as much as $1 a pill when obtained through supplement form.
At GreenMedInfo.com we have indexed a broad range of natural substances with proven macula protective properties. One of the more interesting substances on the list is zinc. Why so? Well, zinc is used in sunblock as a sun protection factor (SPF) due to its ability to reflect light off the skin. Its bright white appearance, for instance, is due to this light-reflecting property. Zinc has a similar role within the macula of the eye. It is capable of reflecting light off the macula, as well as enhancing free radical scavenging activity within that tissue.