Eat your greens for vision protection

A new study from Ohio State University showed that lutein and zeaxanthin, antioxidants found in plants such as kale, spinach and collard greens, helped to protect the cells from exposure to ultraviolet light — a leading cause of cataract formation.

The researchers compared the effects of these antioxidants to vitamin E and found that lutein and zeaxanthin were nearly 10 times more powerful than vitamin E in protecting the cells from UV-induced damage.

“Along with the many environmental, lifestyle and genetic risk factors associated with cataracts, exposure to ultraviolet radiation from sunlight and oxidative stress appears to be the most relevant in this disease,” said Joshua Bomser, co-author of the study. “Our results are the first to provide physical evidence suggesting that lutein and zeaxanthin decrease damage caused by ultraviolet radiation.”

Adding lutein and zeaxanthin to cell cultures reduced signs of damage by 50 to 60%. The researchers also found that it took far less lutein and zeaxanthin as vitamin E — about 10 times less — to get this protective effect.

Source: Ohio State University, Dec 7, 2004