Blindness or low vision affects 3.3 million Americans age 40 and over, or one in 28 people, according to the National Eye Institute. This figure is projected to reach 5.5 million by the year 2020.
With numbers like these, it is inevitable the public will pay increasing attention to the prevention and treatment of some of the most common eye diseases. This includes age-related macular degeneration (AMD), glaucoma, cataracts and diabetic retinopathy.
The public has indeed been paying attention. In 2008, eye-health ingredients were up nearly 50 percent, which certainly was enough to make people stand up and take notice. In 2009, however, the growth died down. But what didn't in the heart of the Great Recession?
Still, some of the most exciting new developments are in the areas of the carotenoids lutein, zeaxanthin and astaxanthin, as well as with omega-3s and vitamin E.
Lutein and zeaxanthin
In November 2009, OmniActive Health Technologies launched Lutemax 2020, based on two of the most recognized ingredients for vision support: lutein and zeaxanthin isomers. The carotenoids are derived from marigolds, and the ingredient is sold in beadlets, oil suspensions and powder.
The human eye contains both lutein and zeaxanthin isomers, namely RR zeaxanthin and RS zeaxanthin, which have been researched for their key role in protecting against age-related macular degeneration (AMD). However, a majority of lutein products currently on the market contain very low levels of zeaxanthin. Healthy diets typically have a 5:1 ratio of lutein to zeaxanthin. But traditional lutein ingredients contain only a 5:0.2 ratio.
"Without a complete source of zeaxanthin, the human eye won't accumulate the proper concentration of both compounds," said Dr. Jayant Deshpande, OmniActive's chief technology officer. "Lutemax 2020 is the first ingredient that provides enhanced levels of zeaxanthin isomers, along with lutein, for convenient and more beneficial nutrient availability to the eyes."
Lutemax 2020's composition contains roughly 85 percent total xanthophylls, of which about 85 percent is trans-lutein, 7.5 percent trans-isomer of 3R,3'R zeaxanthin, and 7.5 percent trans-isomer of 3R,3'S zeaxanthin (also known as trans-meso-zeaxanthin).
Meanwhile, the big-time AREDS2 (Age-Related Eye Disease Study) trial could confirm the efficacy of these carotenoids, although results are not expected until 2013. The study is using a formulation that includes lutein and zeaxanthin, and the omega-3s DHA and EPA, ingredients courtesy of DSM.
E is for eyes
Another development in 2010 also saw a novel delivery system for vitamin E, whose eye-health benefits for age-related macular degeneration have been documented for years.
In a June presentation at a meeting of the American Chemical Society, University of Florida researcher Anuj Chauhan, PhD, announced a new type of vitamin E-impregnated contact lens for glaucoma patients. The nanosized aggregates of vitamin E can help extend the duration of glaucoma medicine released onto the eye almost 100 times longer than is possible with current commercial lenses, he reported.
Currently, this novel treatment idea is being tested in beagles, and it might be commercially available in about five years. Look for it.
Omega-3 fatty acids
Caromin natural palm mixed carotene complex
Xangold Natural Lutein Esters
Incromega DHA 700
DSM Nutritional Products
FloraGLO, the world's leading lutein brand, iused in more clinical trials, including the National Eye Institute's AREDS2 Study, and recommended by more doctors than any other lutein brand, is naturally sourced, animal-free, GMO-free, Kosher-certified and GRAS. FloraGLO is formulated using patented beadlet technology for superior absorption and bioavailability. For use in eye and skin health products.
EPAX 1050 TG
Studies have shown those with a regular intake of DHA have a lower risk of developing age-related macular degeneration than those who do not eat fish. Scientists believe that DHA can alleviate symptoms in patients with ARMD. EPAX 1050 TG is being used by scientists in ongoing vision health clinical trials.
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Hormel Specialty Products
Eterna OmegaSource Omega-3
Lutein & Zeaxanthin