What is astaxanthin?
Astaxanthin is a carotenoid (antioxidants with bright pigment hues). Scientists have acknowledged for many years that carotenoids such as astaxanthin play a part in protecting the eye from free radical damage. However, as eyes age, their levels of certain antioxidants, (carotenoids) decrease. Taking an astaxanthin supplement has been shown to help protect the eyes from future sight degeneration and even improve sight.
How does astaxanthin help eyesight?
In order to be of any use to the eye, carotenoids need two special properties that only a few possess. They must be able to cross not only the blood-brain barrier but also the blood-retinal barrier to gain access into the eye. Both of these barriers are in place to protect these areas from potentially harmful substances present in the blood.
Leading research scientist Dr Mark Tso was the first researcher to establish the presence of astaxanthin within the eye, proving that it has the ability to cross not only the blood-brain barrier but also the blood-retinal barrier. Dr Tso proposed how astaxanthin could protect the macula (the central area of the retina) from damage.
Since then, astaxanthin has been established as an important antioxidant for helping to defend against the damaging free radical effects associated with age-related macular degeneration and age-related cataracts. In a 2008 study carried out in Italy, twenty-seven patients with non-advanced AMD were enrolled and randomly divided into two age similar groups: 15 patients were given a daily oral supplement containing vitamin C, vitamin E, zinc, copper, lutein and zeaxanthin plus 4mg of astaxanthin for 12 months, while the other 12 patients had no dietary supplementation during the same period. Multifocal electroretinograms were taken before and after treatment to assess how well the participants’ retinal cells responded to light. Prior to supplementation all the participants had significant reduced retinal function compared to healthy controls, whereas 6 and 12 months after the treatment, the electroretinogram readings for those in the supplement group had significantly improved.
A more recent study has taken these findings one-step further, by testing the effects of a combination of astaxanthin, lutein and zeaxanthin on visual acuity and visual function in patients with AMD. The results showed that patients in the treatment group showed significantly better visual acuity scores at 24 months compared to the non-treated group. Improvements in contrast sensitivity and measures of overall visual function were also higher in the treated group at 12 and 24 months.
Astaxanthin also helps with eye fatigue
With people spending more and more time in front of computers, eyestrain, irritation, dry eyes, headaches and difficulty focusing on objects at different distances is becoming an increasing problem. In the study, 84 people that frequently experienced symptoms of eye fatigue were given 9mg of astaxanthin or a dummy pill for 4 weeks. To test the effects of the astaxanthin, researchers monitored the participants’ eye accommodation (the ability of the eye to adapt its focus on objects at different distances) and asked them to complete an eye fatigue symptom questionnaire.
When the results were analysed it was found that the astaxanthin group had significantly improved accommodation ability compared to those who were just given dummy pills. What’s more the participants taking the astaxanthin also reported significantly reduced symptoms of eye fatigue. Accommodation relies on the ability of a small muscle in the eye, the ciliary body, to adjust the shape of the eye’s lens. The beneficial effects of astaxanthin on eye fatigue are thought to stem from its ability to protect the ciliary body from damage, improving its ability to regulate the lens.
All round visual benefits
In addition to these antioxidant benefits, emerging research also suggests that astaxanthin can help to improve blood flow to the macula, reduce ocular inflammation and help to protect the eyes against the damaging effects of glaucoma.
All Ingenious supplements contain astaxanthin. Along with giving you more luminous skin, thicker hair and stronger nails, these will help protect your eyesight.