The baby boomer generation moving into its later years has shined a light on eye health. Currently, about 1.75 million Americans have advanced age-related macular degeneration with vision loss, and that number is expected to hit 3 million by 2020. According to the National Eye Institute, an estimated 30.1 million U.S. residents will have a cataract and 9.5 million will lose or have complete occlusion of a lens by 2020. Eyes are highly vulnerable to light damage, and they inevitably age along with the rest of the body. But lifestyle choices can help to protect them and reduce risk of age-related eye conditions. Exercising, maintaining a healthy weight and blood pressure, eating a nutrient-dense diet, and supplementing with lutein, flavanoids, zinc, chromium, and other nutrients can support eye health.
It’s the naturals shopper who is first to understand the relationship of certain carotenoids with vision health—sales of eye-health supplements are up nearly 10 percent in natural stores, while remaining flat in conventional stores. That means education works. Because innovative product categories typically catch on first in the natural channels before migrating to the larger mainstream audience, the naturals sales suggest the future is fast approaching for the category. The giants of the ingredient world remain lutein and zeaxanthin. We caught up with Christian Artaria, Marketing Director & Head of Functional Food Development, at Indena S.p.A.
Fi: How do you see the market progressing in the coming year?
Christian Artaria: The eye health market remains a vital one and in 2013 the National Eye Institute is anticipated to release the results of its AREDS-2 (Age-Related Eye Disease Study) examining the results of antioxidants and fish oil on the progression of age-related macular degeneration. If the results are positive, it will have a far-reaching positive impact on all ingredients across the eye health category.
Fi: Will the overall aging population prove to be a good thing for suppliers of eye health ingredients?
CA: Absolutely. Primary concerns among aging populations are that a loss of eyesight directly impacts quality of life and one's ability to function independently. An individual wants to be able to continue to drive a car, see grandchildren and live on their own without assisted living. These are powerful emotional drivers that have resulted in vibrant, long-term category growth.
Fi: What is the key driver, AMD? General visual acuity?
CA: Age-related macular degeneration has been a driver for two reasons. First it generated widespread concern among aging populations that do not want to get it and actively seek to prevent it. Second, it provided a condition that could be directly affected through proper nutrition. The studies have clearly demonstrated that consuming specific vitamins and antioxidants can directly reduce the risk of AMD. Without these events happening, the eye health category would not have seen the revitalized growth it has seen over the past decade. As a result, all eye health nutrients have benefited.
Fi: How does your Mitrtoselect ingredient fit into the overall eye health picture?
CA: Mirtoselect is a bilberry extract made from Vaccinium myrtillus L. fresh berries and containing 36 percent anthocyanins. Mirtoselect properties for eye health have been clinically and pharmacologically demonstrated in different clinical studies. These studies have shown that Mirtoselect could help recovery for reduced visual function in eyesight due to visual and eye stress.
Fi: Where does the science in the category go now with the recent EFSA health claim rejection? Do you anticipate this having a strong effect on the sector?
CA: EFSA health claims regulation will be sure have an impact on the daily business. The extent of this impact is still not clear, but for sure it will stimulate more research. In addition to macronutrients (proteins, fats and carbohydrates) and to the essential micronutrients (vitamins and mineral salts) mostly positively assessed by EFSA, polyphenols have emerged as a major class of dietary ingredients that can positively affect human health, but still only two classes of them, under certain conditions of uses, have been positively evaluated by EFSA. In general, their reduced intake in the western diet has already been connected to the increase in the onset of chronic degenerative diseases and we can foresee a continued growth of research in this area. Observational studies linking the intake of these compounds and the occurrence of certain pathologies are necessary as are mechanistic and controlled studies confirming their role in the substantiation of the effects.
Condition Specific Directory: EYE HEALTH
Omega-3 fatty acids
Xangold Natural Lutein Esters
Caromin Natural Palm Mixed Carotene Complex
Incromega DHA 700
DSM Nutritional Products
DHA is the raw material used by the body to make the protective compounds that help prevent retinal cell damage caused by excessive exposure to light. EPAX 1050, with its high DHA content, is designed to help support eye health as people age.
+47 70 13 59 60
Pycnogenol pine bark extract
Indena USA Inc.
Mirtoselect is the original standardized bilberry extract. Mirtoselct bilberry is obtained exclusively from Vaccinium myrtillus L. and contains 36% anthocyanins. The benefits of Mirtoselect have been clinically demonstrated and the extract is characterized by a very specific and reproducible HPLC profile.
Just The Berries
Active Cassis Extracts
Made from naturally occurring microalgae, DHAid is a purely vegetarian source of omega-3 DHA. Health benefits of DHAid include the support of brain development and function, as well as heart and eye health.
Allendale, New Jersey
OmniActive Health Technologies
Award-winning Lutemax 2020, now with FDA GRAS notification status, combines lutein with enhanced levels of zeaxanthin isomers for a complete eye health supplement. To help address common inadequacies in diet and support healthy visual function, Lutemax 2020 supplies a combination of lutein and zeaxanthin isomers.
Lutemax range of free lutein and lutein esters
Lutemax Free is a high-quality lutein extract manufactured from marigold flower esters using proprietary technology and Lutemax Lutein Esters deliver safe lutein in its natural ester form.
OmniXan is the only source of natural zeaxanthin from paprika, a natural whole food GRAS source that has long been a part of the human diet. All-natural OmniXan delivers high-quality, safe 3R, 3'R zeaxanthin.
Morristown, New Jersey
VmA25+ standardized bilberry
Zanthin Natural Astaxanthin Complex