Zeaxanthin is one of the xanthophyll carotenoids. Lutein and Astaxanthin are also carotenoids and are so important for vision health. The carotenoids or carotenes are the red, orange and yellow plant pigments that protect against oxidation damage during photosynthesis.

The macula of the eye contains very high concentrations of these three carotenoids. The carotenoids protect the macula from the harmful effects of ultraviolet light. Studies have sown that people with the highest intake of carotenoids have the low- est rate of age-related macular degeneration.

Lutein is a key antioxidant for the eyes. It occurs in high concentrations in the rod cells of the retina, which are largely responsible for the peripheral vision. But the cone cells of the macula, which allow for detailed central vision, have high concen- trations of these carotenoids. They protect the retina by neutralizing the free radicals from sunlight that may damage the eye tissue.

There are very few foods rich in Zeaxanthin. Wolfberry is a sweet, mild fruit the Chinese have used to ensure healthy eyes for 2,000 years. It is also called Goji berries and is a good source of Zeaxanthin.

By Lois Dickey