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Beyond What Meets the Eye

Vision Health Vision Health

New ingredients and today’s trends help expand the variety of options to support eye health.

With so many people affected, it is no wonder the global eye health market—comprising of OTC (over-the-counter) eye care and eye health supplements—is worth nearly $5 billion, growing 15 percent from 2008 to 2013, according to Euromonitor in 2014, noted Lynda Doyle, vice present of global market for OmniActive Heath Technologies in New Jersey. “Moreover, the number of new products launched in the eye health supplement sector accounted for 3.4 percent of total supplements introduced into the market in 2014 (Innova Market Research, 2015).”

There are factors concerning eye health, including not being able to see as well as one used to, eyestrain from too much computer use and poor night vision, Doyle said. She noted that electronic devices have taken a toll on our eyes, whether it is computers, hand-held devices, televisions and video games. “We are constantly bombarded with blue light, and although most of us understand the importance of protecting ourselves from damaging rays of the sun, most adults don’t realize the potential long-term damage blue light can cause to their eyes.”

According to Vice President of New-Jersey based LycoRed Corp. Golan Raz, there is hard evidence that specific nutrition components can help reduce the risk for age-related eye disease (ARED). More than eight million Americans are at high risk to develop ARED conditions and a growing number of them are using nutrition, including supplements as a component in reducing the relevant risks, he explained.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the leading causes of blindness and low vision in the United States are primarily ARED, such as age-related macular degeneration (AMD), cataract, diabetic retinopathy, glaucoma, amblyopia and strabismus. In fact, AMD is associated with aging and can damage sharp and central vision. It comes in two forms, wet and dry; however, the dry form is the most common and accounts for 70 to 90 percent of all AMD cases.

The Benefits of Lutein, Zeaxanthin & Lycopene

According to the American Optometric Association (AOA), there have been many studies showing that lutein and zeaxanthin help reduce the risk of chronic eye disease. Out of 600 carotenoids in nature, there are the only two deposited in high quantities in the macula. The National Eye Institute conducted its second largest human clinical trial, Age-Related Eye Disease Study (AREDS2), in order to confirm whether or not supplements that contain 10 mg a day of lutein and 2 mg of zeaxanthin daily affect the risk of developing AMD. The phase III study with 2 x 2 factorial design was conducted in 2006-2012 and enrolled 4203 participants aged 50 to 85 years. The results found that lutein plus zeaxanthin may be the right substitute to beta-carotene.

According to PubMed, there have been approximately 1,900 studies conducted on lutein alone between 2004 and 2013. Further, it was found that lutein and zeaxanthin may improve visual acuity and visual performance, reduce glare sensitivity, enhance contrast sensitivity and improve vision in dim light. “As research revealing the positive health benefits of the macular carotenoids continues to grow, coupled with consumer awareness about the vital role of lutein and zeaxanthin isomers in health, more consumers now understand the need to incorporate these important eye health nutrients into their daily supplementation regime,” OmniActive’s Doyle said.

Scientific interest in lutein and zeaxanthin isomers have grown significantly over the last three decades, and Doyle expects this trend to continue. “Not only are we seeing a growing number of supplements containing lutein and zeaxanthin isomers appearing on the market, we are also seeing eye health supplements with higher levels of lutein and zeaxanthin isomers,” she said.

OmniActive offers an extensive line of macular carotenoids, including Lutemax 2020 Lutein with Enhanced Levels of Zeaxanthin Isomers, Lutemax Free Lutein and Lutein Esters and OmniXan RR-Zeaxanthin derived from natural paprika.

Lutemax 2020 delivers a 5:1 lutein to zeaxanthin isomers ratio to optimally support eye health, and is available in a variety of 100 percent vegetarian beadlets, oil suspensions and powder. Lutemax Free Lutein is the company’s high-quality lutein extract manufactured from marigold flowers by using proprietary technology, and Lutemax Lutein Esters deliver the most premium, safe lutein in its natural ester form. “Both Lutemax Free Lutein and Lutein Esters are available in a variety, as well of 100 percent vegetarian beadlets and oil suspensions,” she continued.

Overall, the Lutemax range of products are made under a fully integrated supply chain process that begins with the cultivation of the marigold flowers, and continues though the extracting and manufacturing of beadlets, oils and powders for superior quality control. In addition, the FDA (U.S. Food and Drug Administration) accepted OmniActive’s notification of GRAS (generally recognized as safe), and zero adverse effects were known to be reported for lutein and zeaxanthin isomers at extremely high levels for long periods of times.

The company’s other eye health ingredient, OmniXan, delivers the benefits of premium zeaxanthin—a potent quencher of singlet oxygen and lipid radicals, and one of the principle carotenoids in the eye, Doyle explained. “Concentrated in the center of the macula, zeaxanthin absorbs specific wavelengths of light, which could damage the retina and plays a unique role in supporting macular health,” she said. The new OmniXan is available in a variety of delivery forms with the help of the company’s patented OmniBead Beadlet technology, which helps protect the zeaxanthin in the eye and offers greater stability during manufacturing, as well as suspensions for flexibility. Also, it allows manufacturers to incorporate the zeaxanthin to their existing or new combination eye health formulas.

OmniActive’s OmniXan RR-Zeaxanthin is another eye health ingredient made from paprika, which is a natural whole-food and a GRAS source. In addition, it is grown and extracted in the U.S. through a vertically integrated supply chain.

Another ingredient that has been added to products with lutein and zeaxanthin for vision support is lycopene, which decreases the serum and lipoproteins in AMD patients, according to Natural Medicine Journal. “It was found that the high risk ARED population are suffering from a relatively low level of lycopene in their blood,” Doyle noted. “As lycopene is known to be important for multiple bio-chemical functions in our body, scientists have been searching for explanation for this phenomenon. It was suggested that while lutein is finding its way to the eye, lycopene functions as a ‘bodyguard’ and sacrifices itself in order to protect the lutein from oxidation,” she continued.

Because it is difficult finding the right balance of lutein and zeaxanthin, “LycoRed invested in an eye health pre-clinical and clinical program with the guidance of Dr. Alon Harris, MS, PhD from Indiana University, and Itay Chowers, MD of Hadassah Medical Center to prove the efficacy of a new generation of Lutein High Zeaxanthin Nutrient Complex. Using this new Lutein High Zeaxanthin Nutrient Complex, the LycoRed research and development team developed Lyc-O-Vision technology, an optimized formula that contains both bio-available and highly active nutrients for ARED support,” Raz said.

Ingredients & Challenges

Other ingredients that benefit eyes include, antioxidants, vitamins C and E to prevent cataracts, omega-3 long chain PUFAs, genistein and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), which are essential for infants’ eyesight and vitamin A.

Vitamin A actually is a group of antioxidant compounds that play an important role in vision, bone growth and health of the immune system. Vitamin A also helps the surface of the eye, mucous membranes and skin be effective barriers to bacteria and viruses, reducing the risk of eye infections, respiratory problems and other infectious diseases.

Omega-3s and DHA have also been known to support eye health. According to Allaboutvision.com, omega-3 fatty acids include DHA, eicosapentanoic acid (EPA) and alpha-linolenic acid (ALA). As noted on the website, a 2009 National Eye Institute study that used data obtained from the AREDS found participants who reported the highest level of omega-3 fatty acids in their diet were 30 percent less likely than their peers to develop macular degeneration during a 12-year period.

While there are a number of ingredients that are beneficial in regard to vision health, there are multiple challenges when developing an eye health product, Raz explained. “Bio-availability is one of the most common. Also, lutein extracted from marigold flowers, grown in uncontrolled environment is subject to the presence of heavy metals and other toxins. Another challenge is the right mix between lutein, zeaxanthin and the vitamins and minerals recommended in the AREDS 2 study,” he said.

Functional Food and Beverages for Eye Health

While pills and capsules are the most popular delivery form in the vision health category, functional food and beverages are gaining attention in this category. Although food and beverages for eye health are not yet firmly established, as of yet, they are set to become a trend. For instance, OmniActive has developed UltraSOL Nutrient Delivery System for functional food and beverages.

New Jersey-based AstaReal is another company keeping tabs on potential trends. The company provides manufacturers with an alternative approach to the future of eye health ingredients with its AstaReal P2AF (2 percent cold water dispersible powder), AstaReal L10 (10 percent oleoresin), and AstaReal HBA (1.5 percent water soluble), which is its newest natural astaxanthin.

“In order to support and stay on top of this ‘thirst’ for liquid dosing,” said Raz, “AstaReal has developed a water-soluble form of astaxanthin, AstaReal HBA. This new version of our natural astaxanthin is ideal for functional beverages and liquid supplements, and will greatly support this growing movement,” Raz concluded. NIE

For more information:
AstaReal, Inc., (609) 386-3030
LycoRed Corp., (877) LYCORED
OmniActive Health Technologies, (866) 588-3629