What is the function of lutein and these other carotenoids in this portion of the retina? “Lutein helps to protect the macula by absorbing undesirable wavelengths of blue light and stopping them from reaching certain layers of the retina, reducing the likelihood of photo-oxidative stress,”* says optometrist Kelsea Brown, O.D. Hence: Internal sunglasses.
Your eyes are constantly working very hard and using a lot of energy, making them more susceptible to oxidative stress from extended screen time and other environmental factors.
All of this talk of supporting your eye health might have you asking a specific question: Can lutein enhance your eyesight? Brown offers her insight: “It does not directly function in the process of eyesight; however, it protects the macula and retina with its antioxidant properties.”*
According to the 2018 Nutrients review, lutein has several positive effects1 on the eye—including increasing macular pigment optical density (MPOD) levels, enhancing visual acuity3 (the ability to distinguish shapes and details of objects at a distance), and bolstering contrast sensitivity4 (the ability to see the outlines of objects).*
The review states, “through all these mechanism(s), it is quite conceivable that [lutein] may exert a pivotal role in regulating immune pathways, modulating inflammatory responses, and combating oxidative [stress].”* In other words? It’s kind of a big deal.
According to a Clinics in Dermatology review, lutein’s function in the eye also sheds light (no pun intended) on why it’s also found in the skin5—to protect against light.*
And by the way, lutein might help your sleep health as well: A 2017 Foods study found supplementation with macular carotenoids was associated with enhanced sleep quality6, potentially due to the same mechanisms that support the carotenoids’ ability to protect the eyes from blue light.*