Macular Degeneration

Jarrow's New Macula Protective Factors: There is Literally Not a Better Eye Supplement

Jarrow Formulas has just developed a new eye formula that is one of the only products on the market today to contain meso-zeaxanthin, a unique form of zeaxanthin (a carotenoid- a nutrient related to vitamin A) that is particularly beneficial to eye health. The new formula called Macula Protective Factors, and we’re very excited to have it in the store.

Meso-zeaxanthin helps to increase pigment density in the center of the macula, which almost works like natural protective sunglasses in the eye.

Lutein is probably the best known eye supplement. Part of how lutein protects the eye is by increasing pigment density in the eye, though research has discovered that lutein primarily works on the periphery or outer side of the macula, whereas meso-zeaxanthin works in the center of the macula- where the most damage is done to our eyes. Meso-zeaxanthin has documented benefits not found in other forms of zeaxanthin or other eye supplements.

Meso-zeaxanthin is not found in foods, and while supplements where simply “zeaxanthin” is listed on the label may possibly contain some percentage of meso-zeaxanthin, there is no way of knowing exactly how much.

Interestingly, when we first received a prototype of this new supplement by Jarrow, Margot (who works at the store) started taking it and brought it to show to her eye doctor. When he saw the ingredients, specifically that it contained the rare form of meso-xeaxanthin, he was extremely excited and wanted more information about the supplement, since he knew the benefits of meso-xeaxanthin, but said it was usually hard to find.

Part of the uniqueness of meso-xeaxanthin is that unlike regular zeaxanthin supplements or other eye nutrients, it is able to cross the blood/retina barrier, and as such, is able to directly benefit and protect the eyes from damage. In studies, supplementation with meso-xeaxanthin led to the largest increases in macular pigment densities, which is the first defense for the eyes against radiation and the damaging blue light emitted from electronic devices.

Macular degeneration is the leading cause of vision loss for people aged 60 and older. It is an irreversible destruction of the macula, which leads to a loss of detailed “straight ahead” vision needed for reading, driving, and other daily activities. Unfortunately, nothing yet has been found to restore damage to the macula, so protecting the eyes and mitigating damage is paramount.

Increasing macular pigment density helps to prevent age related macular degeneration, and the specific form of meso-zeaxanthin has been conclusively shown to increase that pigment density, especially in the center of the eye. Increasing macular pigment in the eye helps to naturally absorb damaging UV and blue light, reducing oxidative stress on the eye. Meso-zeaxanthin helps to neutralize the reactive, oxidative free radicals created by exposure to UV and blue light.

The amount of macular pigments we naturally have decreases with age, which in turn gives our eyes less protection as the years go by. Also, people with light eyes naturally have less pigment density in their eyes, and because of that, their eyes are less effective at absorbing environmental radiation and protecting the retina.

Without hesitation, we would say that this new Macula Protective Factors by Jarrow is hands down the best eye supplement we have ever seen. It’s an exciting new advancement that I’m really happy to be able to share. In addition to containing the amazing meso-zeaxanthin, this new formula also contains lutein plus astaxanthin, a broad spectrum antioxidant that is active in the eyes (not all antioxidants are).

Eye health, and preventing the degradation of the eyes that nearly all of us will experience with time, is extremely important and directly affects one’s daily life and standard of living. In the past, most people would only begin to start thinking about eye health around retirement age, but new research is showing how eye nutrients can be beneficial and protective to people of all ages, even children and teenagers, who are exposed to damaging blue light from electronic devices and screens more now than ever before.

We will be offering Jarrow’s new Macula Protective Factors on sale at Pass Health Foods through the month of September for 25% off, so it’s a great time to try it.


Healthy Q & A: Protecting Eyes Against Vision Loss

Q: I take care of my mom who has lost a lot of her eyesight from macular degeneration.  It’s terrible what she goes through, and I wanted to write to ask if there was anything that I could do to prevent the same thing happening to me.

A: Macular degeneration is the physical breakdown of the part of the eye responsible for detailed, central vision called the macula.  Age-related macular degeneration, also known as AMD, is the leading cause of vision loss and blindness among Americans who are age 65 and older.  The damage to the eye’s macula is caused by oxidation and free radicals which are a natural part of aging.   Damage from sunlight also plays a large factor, as well as other risk factors like high blood pressure and diabetes.

The first line of defense is to protect your eyes from damage in the first place.  The sun’s UV rays have cumulative harmful effects on the eyes, especially people with light colored eyes, who are at a greater risk of macular degeneration.  Wearing sunglasses is an easy way to prevent eye damage from the sun.  People often wear sunglasses during the summer months, but don’t think of it when the weather turns colder.  Sunglasses are as important, if not more so, during winter months when the glare from snow intensifies the sun’s brightness. Sunglasses are necessary on cloudy days as well, since UV rays filter through the clouds.

When buying sunglasses, make sure they say that they protect against UVA and UVB rays. Most people know that it’s important to wear sunglasses but often forget to actually put them on.  Having several pairs helps with this- keeping a pair in your purse and one in each car so you always have a pair handy is a great idea.  There are also sunglasses that are made to go over glasses (if you’re a person who wears glasses instead of contacts) and there are many new and stylish options available in most drug stores.

Next to preventing sun damage in the eyes, the greatest weapon available to fight against macular degeneration is antioxidants.  The most important antioxidants for eye health is lutein, a supplement that’s related to vitamin A.  Lutein has been the subject of countless studies showing its benefit to eye health and preventing vision loss.  Amazingly, lutein has been found in studies not only to prevent macular degeneration, but to help with improving vision in people suffering from age related macular degeneration (or AMD).  In one study, conducted at the Medical Center Eye Clinic in North Chicago, patients with AMD were given 10 mg of lutein or placebo for 12 months found that the group who took lutein had improved visual function.  In another study, published in the Journal of the Science of Food and Agriculture, patients with cataracts and AMD were given 15 mg of lutein along with a small amount of vitamin E. Cataracts patients were measured for visual acuity, glare sensitivity, and contrast sensitivity, while AMD patients were tested for visual acuity.  At the end of the study, cataracts patients improved by 40-50 percent and the AMD patients exhibited stabilized or improved vision. None of the patients experienced side effects and all reported improved vision.

One important thing to mention when looking for a lutein supplement is making sure it’s a high enough dose.  At grocery stores, the eye supplement that is the number one seller in America only has 2 mg of lutein.  While 2 mg of lutein certainly won’t hurt to take, all the studies I’ve read talk about taking at least 10 milligrams of lutein per day.  There are lots of supplements sold today that have the same problem, a product may be well known because of advertizing, but often the ingredients that are in them aren’t high enough to be a therapeutic dose.  If you’re taking a supplement, don’t you want to make sure there are enough of the beneficial ingredients to really make a difference?

With eye health (and every other part of health) an ounce of prevention truly is worth a pound of cure. If you haven’t yet experienced the beginnings of degenerative eye problems like AMD, first be thankful, and second, make a point to reduce your risk factors- wearing sunglasses and taking a high antioxidant multivitamin can make a big difference.  Healthy eating with lots of fresh fruits and vegetables can make a significant difference as well.  We truly are what we eat, and it’s important to give the body good fuel to make new cells and prevent disease.  Finally, make sure to see the eye doctor every year for a check-up, since it’s much easier to address a problem when it’s just beginning than when you've actually started to notice a worsening in your vision.

Health Q & A: Macular Degeneration


I don’t really know much about eye supplements, but I was recommended by my eye doctor to take one with lutein for macular degeneration.  He didn’t recommend a specific one though or a certain strength, so I wanted to see what you’d recommend.



First of all, it’s great that you’re interested in starting a supplement for eye health.  Supplements containing lutein and other vision nutrients can make a big difference in slowing the rate of macular degeneration, especially when started early.


There have been a number of studies about the benefits of lutein (a nutrient related to vitamin A) for macular degeneration.  Harvard published a study which found that 6mg of lutein per day reduced the risk of macular degeneration by 43 percent.  Other studies have found increased benefits for higher amounts of lutein per day (10 mg or more).  In the studies it was basically found that any concentration of lutein was helpful for macular degeneration, but the higher the concentration, the better the protective effect.  The general recommendation for the best vision protection is 20mg.


Another nutrient, zeaxanthan, has often been paired with lutein in research studies.  Zeaxanthan has been further found to enhance lutein’s benefits on eye health.  One supplement we especially recommend is Jarrow Formulas Lutein, which has 20 mg of lutein per pill plus an extra milligram of zeaxanthan.  Lutein should be taken with food to help with absorption.


There was another large scale study on macular degeneration and vitamin supplements known as the “AREDS Study”.  The researchers used 500 milligrams of vitamin C; 400 IU of vitamin E; 15 milligrams of beta-carotene; 80 milligrams of zinc as zinc oxide; and two milligrams of copper.  The study found that the participants who consumed those specific amounts of the vitamins and minerals above had had the lowest risk of developing advanced stages of age related macular degeration and its accompanying vision loss compared to the others in the study who took smaller amounts or no supplements at all.  Most of the above values would be in a quality multivitamin with the exception of the zinc (80 mg. of zinc is a pretty high dose, which would need to be added seperately). 


People who wished to follow the multivitamin and mineral values used in that study should make sure to take 2mg of copper along with the zinc, since high dosages of zinc can deplete copper stores in the body.


Protecting the eyes from sun damage by wearing sunglasses is another easy way to protect the eyes.  Make sure the sunglasses you’re using are rated for both UVA and UVB protection.  Routine eye exams are also crucial for maintaining eye health, since as they say, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure”.


To test yourself for macular degeneration in between eye exams, click here.  It’s a site with a diagram known as the Amsler Grid which tests defects in the center of vision (the area affected my macular degeneration).