The eye health benefits of lutein supplements may extend to protection against the damaging effects of strong light, suggest new findings from a Japanese study with mice.
According to new findings, lutein may protect the DNA of photoreceptive cells in the retina from the harmful effects of strong light.
Researchers also report that visual impairment produced by strong light exposure was attenuated in mice fed supplements of lutein.
Lutein, a nutrient found in various foods including green leafy vegetables and egg yolk, has a ten-year history in the dietary supplement market as a nutrient to reduce the risk of age-related macular degeneration (AMD), the leading cause of blindness in the over 50s.
For the new study the researchers divided mice into two groups: One group was fed normal chow and the second group had their chow supplemented with 0.1 percent lutein. Animals were fed the diets for 10 days before being exposed to light.
Results showed that lutein supplementation was associated with a reduction in a range of detrimental effects associated with light exposure, including visual impairment, and a thinning of the layer of photoreceptor cells.
In addition, the researchers note that a marker of DNA damage was up-regulated in the normal chow-fed animals, but this was suppressed in the lutein fed animals.
“Therefore, lutein induced […] DNA repair, which could suppress DNA damage and photoreceptor cell apoptosis.
“Lutein reduced light-induced oxidative stress in the retina, which might contribute to promote DNA repair. The lutein-supplemented diet attenuated light-induced visual impairment by protecting the photoreceptor cells’ DNA,” they said.
“Although lutein has been applied as a dietary supplement for chronic diseases, such as AMD, it may have a chance to be involved as a preventive medicine for acute diseases in the future,” wrote the authors.
“Moreover, elucidating the molecular mechanism of lutein’s effect on light-induced photoreceptor cell apoptosis might also be helpful for analyzing lutein’s effect on the photodamage in other organs.
“In the skin, lutein is believed to protect against edema and hyperplasia after UV exposure. The present study will help understand its molecular mechanism,” the concluded.