Question: Are ocular supplements with Meso-Zeaxanthin safe to be used? I am skeptical about what would be happen with natural production of Meso-Zeaxanthin after I STOP taking macular pigment supplements? In short, are there any negative consequences if I stop using eye supplements?

Answer:


Disclaimer: My interest in macular pigment and blue light is due to my problems with light sensitivity (photophobia), discomfort glare, and computer eye strain. I am not a vision scientist.


Your concern is reasonable. However, I’ve never seen a research report highlighting the type of problems – negative side effects – you are afraid of.

We obtain macular pigment carrotenoids from food (we don’t produce them)

Our bodies do not produce macular pigment carrotenoids: lutein, zeaxanthin and meso-zeaxanthin. The closest to our production of macular pigment carrotenoids would be the old theory which suggested that meso-zeaxanthin is bio-converted within the eye – macular pigment to be more precise – from lutein. However that theory is currently being challenged by a newer hypothesis; There is increasingly more evidence that meso-zeaxanthin is also obtained from dietary intake.

Macular pigment carrotenoids are first absorbed from food into our blood and than deposited in the eye to form our macular pigment. This is necessary because macular pigment is being consumed in anti-oxidative processes taking place at the macula – the point on our retinas where our vision is sharpest.

blue filter - eye anatomy - macular pigment

 

Therefore, the only consequence of stopping with macular pigment supplements is that your body will have access to lower quantity (possible too little) of macular pigment carrotenoids.

If, over the years, you’ve become more sensitive to light and glare, it is possible, that your macular pigment optical density (MPOD – i.e. its blue light filtering capacity) has been reduced. A likely reason for this is that your current diet is not sufficiently rich in lutein, zeaxanthin and meso-zeaxanthin.

Subsequently, unless you improve your diet (lots of green leafy vegetables), your macular pigment will be slowly depleted again, once you stop taking macular pigment supplements.

Lutein-meso-zeaxanthin eye supplements_macular pigment profiles

Examples of macular pigment autofluorescence images obtained from AREDS2 participants. Most subjects have radially symmetric patterns, but a few have very low MP levels with fragmented distributions (scale is expanded 3-fold for clarity for fragmented distribution). Source.

 

My personal experience with macular pigment supplements

My personal experience with MacuShield macular pigment supplements has been that after one year of taking the daily recommended dose I went to half the recommended daily dose. After three months it appeared that my eyes became more sensitive again, so I went back to taking full dose again. But it is very hard to know:
– how objective my evaluation of eye sensitivity is (including a possible placebo effect?), and
– whether increased or reduced sensitivity was due to the change in dose or some other factors that also play a role in the sensitivity of my eyes 🙁

Recommendation

Still, I would highly recommend macular pigment supplements to anyone with light sensitivity and a reasonable suspicion that glare sensitivity is due to blue light.

After all, macular pigment is by far the best blue light filter – and also an anti-oxidant – for the same price 😉

Try supplements with lutein, zeaxanthin and meso-zeaxanthin for 3-6 months and see if you feel any improvement in your glare sensitivity.

To find out how you can know if your eyes are sensitive to blue light see:
Are you sensitive to light … or just blue light!?
GLARminŸ Tester: Pick your blue light filter best informed


Further reading on macular pigment carrotenoid supplementation and diet:
Less light sensitivity, computer eye strain: Blue light filtering diet (on macular pigment)
11 best lutein, zeaxanthin and meso-zeaxanthin supplements (an overview)
Macular pigment eye supplements: MacuShield and MacuHealth review

 

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