Lutein is essential for vision health. It does not directly function in the process of sight. Rather, it is a powerful antioxidant that protects the macula by absorbing damaging blue, violet and ultra violet light. It accumulates in the retina including at the macula, the oval-shaped pigmented area near the center of the retina, which is responsible for detail vision. The macula is yellow because of the yellow color of lutein (and zeaxanthin); and it is the yellow pigment that is able to absorb oxidizing blue, violet and ultra violet light.
Lutein has been shown to lessen the risk of severe damage from age-related macular degeneration. Researchers have noted that diets rich in lutein reduce the risk of developing AMD by 57%.1 They found that treatment with lutein helped to thicken the protective pigmented layer of the retina.2 And they found that retinas with AMD had 30% less lutein than healthy retinas.3
Lutein is even more effective when coupled with other carotenoids zeaxanthin and mesozeaxanthin.15 Lutein has also been shown to reduce the risk of progression (by 25-30%) of the dry (early) form of macular degeneration into the more severe (wet) form which is also known as choroidal neovascularization.