Lutein and zeaxanthin for healthy eyes. That's why this combination is so valuable for good eyesight.

19. December 2023 from Kea Blum
With increasing age, visual acuity decreases and often also night vision. This can lead to vision problems when driving at night.

In Switzerland(1), four out of five people between the ages of 16 and 74 wear glasses or contact lenses (as of 2021) - and the trend is rising. One reason for this is demographic change: eyesight deteriorates with increasing age. However, intensive media use at a young age can also have an impact on eye health. There is evidence that blue light from smartphones and the like can promote the development of age-related macular degeneration. Certain vital substances can help to maintain good eyesight for as long as possible. The carotenoids lutein and zeaxanthin are of great importance.

Promoting healthy eyes into old age

It is quite normal for eyesight to deteriorate with age. Like all organs, the eyes are subject to natural ageing processes. However, everyone can influence to a certain extent how early presbyopia occurs and how severely it progresses. The same applies to the development of one of the most common chronic eye diseases, age-related macular degeneration.

In our article on eye health, we take a closer look at possible influencing factors. One aspect is the topic of media time. Conscious use of digital media at a young age can have a positive effect on eye health in old age - particularly on the development of age-related macular degeneration.

Another important influencing factor is nutrition. There are vital substances that can specifically support good eyesight into old age. Two of these are the carotenoids lutein and zeaxanthin. They can have a positive influence on age-related macular degeneration. Before we go into the two vital substances in more detail, we will show how age-related macular degeneration can affect vision.

What is age-related macular degeneration?

As the name suggests, age plays a role in the development of age-related macular degeneration. It is estimated that around 26 %2 of Europeans over the age of 60 have this chronic eye disease.

Anyone affected by this suffers from diminishing eyesight. The reason for this is the destruction of the macula. This is the area of sharpest vision. This is where the photoreceptors are particularly densely arranged. In the early stages of age-related macular degeneration, lines appear distorted or curved, for example when reading. As the eye disease progresses, a grey shadow forms in the centre of the field of vision. Differences in brightness can also no longer be easily recognised and bright light is very dazzling. Vision and visual acuity progressively decrease - to the point of severe visual impairment.

The eyes need lutein and zeaxanthin for this

Lutein and zeaxanthin are two carotenoids that occur naturally in the macula. They help to protect important cell structures in the retina - above all the macular pigments. These have an antioxidant effect, i.e. reduce oxidative stress, and filter blue light. In addition, macular pigments support natural visual functions such as contrast vision and night vision.

In the case of early age-related macular degeneration, the macular pigment can be improved by the targeted intake of lutein and zeaxanthin. This is the result of a study3 from China.

These foods contain lutein and zeaxanthin

As important as lutein and zeaxanthin are for eye health: The body cannot produce the two carotenoids itself. We must therefore take them in in a targeted manner. Lutein and zeaxanthin are found naturally in green leafy vegetables such as spinach, kale, chard and rocket, as well as in pistachios and corn. However, the content of lutein and zeaxanthin in foods can vary greatly. Food intolerances and/or individual eating habits also have an influence on the intake.

The potential of food supplements

If you want to specifically promote eye health, you can take dietary supplements containing lutein and zeaxanthin. When choosing a dietary supplement, it is important to pay attention to the dosage of lutein and zeaxanthin. It can have an influence on the effectiveness. A dosage of ten milligrams of lutein and two milligrams of zeaxanthin is considered optimal in food supplements. For example, the large-scale Age-Related Eye Disease Study 2 (AREDS2)4 shows that this combination can reduce the progression of age-related macular degeneration.

The following applies to lutein: a lot does not always help a lot

Many dietary supplements contain significantly higher doses of lutein. However, the results of a study5 from Beijing show that higher doses are not automatically associated with better efficacy. It is true that 20 milligrams of lutein per day increased the optical density of the macular pigment and improved the contrast density in contrast to a dosage of ten milligrams. However, this effect was only seen with a short-term intake of 48 weeks. After two years of intake, however, there were no longer any significant differences between the doses. The scientists therefore recommend the lower dose of ten milligrams of lutein per day.

Other vital substances for good eyesight

In addition to lutein and zeaxanthin, there are other vital substances that can have a positive effect on eye health.

  • Omega-3 fatty acids: These long-chain, polyunsaturated fatty acids are important building blocks of the cell membrane - including the retina. Increased consumption of the omega-3 fatty acids DHA and EPA can reduce the risk of developing age-related macular degeneration. This is the result of a large-scale study6 involving 40,000 women.
  • Anthocyanins: Blueberries contain many anthocyanins. They are secondary plant substances and, according to a study7 from China, can protect special cells in the retina from light-induced damage. According to the scientists from China, they therefore have the potential to prevent age-related macular degeneration.
  • Vitamin B2: It contributes to the maintenance of normal vision.
  • Astaxanthin: This natural carotenoid8 has been shown to improve blood circulation in the eye. This can have a positive effect on visual acuity. People who work a lot at the computer or in artificial light in particular can benefit from this vital substance.


Our eyes are our most important sensory organ. We perceive the majority of environmental stimuli through them. If our eyesight deteriorates with age, our quality of life suffers greatly. Age-related macular degeneration can be one reason for deteriorating eyesight. It is one of the most common chronic eye diseases. However, anyone can reduce the risk of developing the disease. One influencing factor is vital substances. In this article, we have focussed specifically on the carotenoids lutein and zeaxanthin.

The problem is that the body cannot produce the carotenoids itself. And many people only manage to absorb sufficient lutein and zeaxanthin through their diet to a limited extent. If you want to maintain your eyesight for as long as possible, you can supplement lutein and zeaxanthin with food supplements. Studies have shown that they can be particularly beneficial in relation to age-related macular degeneration.

Vital substances that the eyes love.

Daily dosage of main substances:

  •     10.0 mg lutein
  •     2.0 mg zeaxanthin

Supplementary vital substances:

  •     Omega-3 fatty acids
  •     Blueberries (anthocyanins)
  •     Vitamin B2
  •     Astaxanthin

Kea Blum

I am a freelance journalist and editor from Hamburg. By my side is my Australian Shepherd girl Maja and my husband. After my studies in ecotrophology and a PR and editorial traineeship, I started my own business. For more than four years, I have been looking after clients in the fields of nutrition and health. I still find it fascinating how much what we eat can affect our health. And I love to pass on this knowledge to others through my work.