A new study, published in the Journal of Clinical Research and Ophthalmology, looked at the effects of eating 12 eggs per week on aspects of vision among people with early age-related macular degeneration (AMD). AMD is a leading cause of blindness in the United States and affects over 10 million people. In this study, researchers saw significant improvements in a measure of macular function and retinal health.
AMD is caused by damage to the macula, a central area in the retina that is important for sharp, central vision. Two antioxidants, lutein and zeaxanthin, accumulate in the macula and are thought to protect against damaging blue light (originating from sunlight, indoor lightening, TVs, computer screens, etc.). In fact, research suggests that low levels of these pigments within the eye may increase the risk for developing AMD.
Lutein and zeaxanthin can be found in green leafy and yellow vegetables, as well as egg yolks. While concentrations are lower in eggs than vegetable sources, the bioavailability of these compounds is much higher from eggs and research has shown that regular egg consumption increases both serum and macular levels of lutein and zeaxanthin.
In this 12-month study, researchers evaluated several aspects of eye function as well as serum concentrations of lutein and zeaxanthin. Findings include a significant improvement in glare recovery following the egg intervention, a measurement that quantifies the time it takes the macula to return to normal function following exposure to a bright light. Egg consumers also showed an 83% increase in serum zeaxanthin concentrations compared to baseline. There were no changes in the control group.
With 76 million baby boomers in the United States at risk for the development of AMD, these results have significant public health implications. This study shows that a simple change in one’s diet can benefit the progression of disease.
Reference: Aljohi H, Nelson MD, Cifuentes M, Wilson TA. Consumption of 12 eggs per week for 1 year significantly raises serum zeaxanthin levels and improves glare recovery in patients with early age-related macular degeneration. J Clin Res Opthalmology. 2017 (In Press)