Updated: Aug 31
Our eyes are constantly exposed to environmental insults that can lead to oxidative stress and damage. The retina, in particular, is in a rich environment of oxygen and light, demanding a large number of free radical scavengers to prevent oxidative damage. Astaxanthin, a carotenoid found in algae and seafood, easily crosses into the tissues of the eye, mopping up free radicals and reducing inflammation safely and with more potency than any other carotenoid.
Epidemiological studies have shown diets high in carotenoids are associated with a reduced risk of age-related macular degeneration and cataracts. Of all carotenoids, research has shown that none have managed to work as well as astaxanthin does. As a free radical scavenger, with the ability to pass through the blood-retina barrier, astaxanthin has outperformed all other carotenoids as the winner when it comes to protecting your eyes.
Eye Health :
Vision impairment and eye disease are major global health concerns and have been associated with increased morbidity and mortality, and lower quality of life. The human eye is an incredibly complex organ comprised of multiple tissue types, layers, and parts. All must work perfectly in synch and be constantly maintained. But the problem with any complex system is that there are far more things that can break down or go wrong.
By the time we reach middle age, our eyes have spent more than one billion seconds bombarded by sunlight, artificial light, computer/smart device screens, pollution, allergens and foreign bodies. Then there are the insults from strain, fatigue, chronic sleep deficit, nutritional deficiencies, and disease.
One of the most damaging assaults to our eyes derives from oxidative stress, which includes damage to cellular DNA and cellular bodies caused by reactive oxygen species (ROS), also called “free radicals.” The production of free radicals is triggered by light, pollution, and endogenous chemical reactions. This occurs when the antioxidant defense system can’t keep up with the oxidative conditions that lead to the production of free radicals.
The eye is particularly vulnerable to oxidative stress due to its exposure to light, its rich content of mitochondria, and the high metabolic rate of photoreceptors. Antioxidants are a first-line defense against the attack on our eyes. Among the antioxidant ingredients that are especially effective for protecting our eyes from the damages caused by direct insult and oxidative stress are carotenoids like astaxanthin.
Astaxanthin offers unique protection for the eye as one of the more efficient antioxidant compounds. It neutralizes oxygen radical molecules, works with other vision health-supporting carotenoids like lutein and zeaxanthin, attenuates inflammatory triggers, and increases ocular blood flow. Astaxanthin provides stronger light absorption across broader wavelengths than other carotenoids. Studies support astaxanthin’s ability to protect the retinas from light-induced damage and suggest a carotenoid complex that includes astaxanthin could protect the eyes from damage across the entire solar spectrum.
The anti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory activities of astaxanthin may support the prevention or alleviation of symptoms of age-related eye diseases like cataracts, age-related macular degeneration, glaucoma, and diabetic retinopathy. Astaxanthin shows promise as a natural compound that can help maintain eye health and support vision as we age.
In a pre-clinical study the effect of astaxanthin was evaluated on the retina of rats with elevated intraocular pressure. The levels of retinal protein oxidation and cells death (apoptosis) was significantly lower in the high pressure plus astaxanthin treatment group as compared to the high-pressure control group. The study showed that astaxanthin has a protective effect on the retina of eyes with ocular high pressure.
Diabetic retinopathy (DR):
Diabetic retinopathy (DR) is one of the major microvascular complications of diabetes and the most frequent cause of acquired blindness in adults. The formation and accumulation glycation end products (AGEs) is a key pathophysiological process involved in diabetic retinopathy .
The protective effect of astaxanthin on DR was shown in several studies. In a study with cultured human retinal pigment epithelial cells Astaxanthin exhibited significant inhibitory effects on the formation of AGEs, ROS, lipid peroxidation and blood vessels formation stimulators.
Astaxanthin's Impact on Eye Health:
The human eye is exceptionally susceptible to oxidative stress due to factors such as constant exposure to light, abundant presence of mitochondria, and the high metabolic rate of photoreceptors. Astaxanthin, a powerful natural antioxidant, can penetrate the eye and shield it from the detrimental effects of oxidative stress inducers like ultraviolet (UV) and blue light.
Astaxanthin's role in promoting eye health is crucial as it helps safeguard the eye from oxidative damage caused by UV and potentially blue light, contributing to long-lasting visual well-being. Numerous studies have demonstrated that incorporating Astaxanthin into one's diet can yield positive effects on eye health, such as alleviating eye fatigue, enhancing accommodation ability, boosting blood circulation, and even mitigating long-term symptom aggravation in individuals with macular degeneration.
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