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British Research Supports Nutritional Strategy For Eye Health
Lagrange IL, 19 August 2002

British researchers have found that a natural dietary supplement ingredient called lutein esters may promote eye health for an aging population, according to their presentation recently made to the Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology in Florida.

Evidence has been growing that a tiny part of the eye's retina, termed the macular pigment, may give the eye in-built protection from age-related macular degeneration (AMD), the disease that is the principal cause of irreversible blindness in the elderly. The macular pigment is entirely made up of lutein and zeaxanthin, plant pigments found in many fruits and vegetables.

Research findings strongly indicate that people are at greater risk of developing AMD if the density of their macular pigment is low. Now, research groups around the world are excited by the prospect that it may be possible to increase macular pigment density and thereby reduce the risk of the disease, by simply adding extra sources of the carotenoids lutein and zeaxanthin to the diets of those at risk.

While this theory has not yet been proven, a new study by researchers from the Department of Optometry and Neurosciences at England's University of Manchester, has raised hopes that patients already experiencing early stages of AMD may be able to delay or even prevent its progress through dietary intervention. The work is supported by the UK Department of Health under the MedLINK programme (the LINK programme for medical devices).

Ian Murray, PhD, who presented his group's latest findings to the annual meeting of the Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology in Florida, said: "I have seen many patients who are suffering from the disabling effects of AMD. Of course we are excited by the prospect that a simple addition to the diet may impede the progress of the disease and prevent others who are at risk from experiencing such problems. Right now, dietary intervention is the only hope for most of them."

In one study, Dr. Murray's group selected 8 patients at an early stage of development of the disease. Aged between 60 to 81, these patients so far have normal visual acuity. They were compared with 'normal' subjects, matched for sex, eye-color and age. The researchers observed, as in earlier studies, that eyes at risk of developing early-stage AMD have lower macular pigment density than eyes without such risk, adding credibility to the theory that the macular pigment has an AMD-protective role.

In the second ongoing study, the researchers gave a daily supplement of Cognis' Xangold(R) 15% Natural Lutein Esters (a source of lutein) to 8 patients (6 from the first group) and to 8 normal subjects, over a period of 18 weeks and measured the effects. Interim data after 12 weeks of supplementation indicate that the density of macular pigment in both patients and normal subjects increased at the same rate. Further, the researchers found that, where patients already had AMD in one eye, both eyes responded equally well to supplementation.

These results suggest that, at least in the early stages of AMD, the disease does not stop lutein from being deposited in the retina. The significant implication of this finding is that in patients at an early stage of AMD, dietary intervention may help promote eye health by maintaining the density of the macular pigment.

Xangold® Natural Lutein Esters, a source of lutein, are found in branded dietary supplements sold over-the-counter in national supermarkets, health food stores, pharmacies, and mass merchandisers.

For more about AMD, visit www.nei.nih.gov

About Cognis

Cognis is a worldwide supplier of specialty chemicals and nutritional ingredients. The company delivers natural source ingredients for food, nutrition and healthcare markets and serves major customers in the cosmetics, detergents and cleaners industries. Additionally, Cognis provides solutions for a number of industries such as, coatings and inks, lubricants, textiles and plastics as well as agrosolutions and mining chemicals.



Read more about the Manchester research.


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