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Seeing Clearly

Albion Minerals®
Vision Health Vision Health

Out of the five senses, the sense of sight may be one of the most valued. According to research published in 2019 in JAMA Opthalmology, in a cross-sectional survey of U.K. adults from the general public, sight was the most valued sense. These results suggested that people would on average choose 4.6 years of perfect health over 10 years of life with complete sight loss.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) Vision Health Initiative (VHI), approximately 12 million people 40 years and over in the United States have vision impairment, including 1 million who are blind, 3 million who have vision impairment after correction, and 8 million who have vision impairment due to uncorrected refractive error.

And while long-standing issues, like eye dryness, strain and fatigue have been around for some time, new concerns, such as exposure to blue light, have been growing exponentially in recent years, which has affected the marketplace for eye health products.

“According to vision market data from ResearchandMarkets.com,1 the global vision market had a value of $66.5 billion in 2021 and is expected to reach $83.2 billion by 2027,” said Leslie Gallo, president of Artemis International, Inc. (Fort Wayne, IN). “This growth is fueled by many factors including an aging population, UV rays, digital device usage, pollution and other factors. The trend toward increased use of digital devices, be they cellphones, tablets or computer screens for work and entertainment, is a major threat to our vision health. The rise in e-sports is fueling additional screen time, which should be taken seriously for brands developing products to support healthy vision—digital strain is a very real problem that is only going to continue to grow.

Shaheen Majeed, CEO of California-based BGG Americas, Inc., concurred that the market for vision health is strong and growing. “Many consumers are confident that supplements can have a big impact on the health of their eyes. This is due to the ongoing clinical research in this area and the publicity surrounding it,” he said. “And while early studies in this area were focused on a narrow area of benefits, in recent years, the diversity of studies has grown substantially. For example, both astaxanthin and bilberry have been shown to have great effects on people suffering from eye fatigue and eye strain from the overuse of computers. Especially these days, as more and more people work from home, the use of laptops, monitors and cell phones has comparatively increased the use of our precious eyes.”

In addition to a wide range of vision health concerns, consumers also want convenience. “Eye drops lack convenience and become less effective with continued use, not to mention poor consumer compliance with these types of products,” explained Michael Chernyak, president of CK Nutraceuticals (Canada). “Today’s consumer demands convenience and portability—products that can support healthy vision and also fit with their lifestyle.”

The Age-Related Eye Disease Study 2 (AREDS2) has also impacted the vision health marketplace for the better. According to Tyler Holstein, global product manager, Kemin (Des Moines, IA), the National Institutes of Health (NIH) published a study in June 2022 on the efficacy and safety of prolonged use of AREDS2 supplements. “The goal of the NIH study was to assess the long-term risk of developing lung cancer and late age-related macular degeneration (AMD) and if there is a benefit to adding lutein/zeaxanthin to supplements,” he explained. “The study reported data that, combined with data from previous studies, suggests lutein/zeaxanthin should be an appropriate replacement for beta carotene in AREDS2 formulation as it may be safer in terms of lung cancer risk and provide an incremental increase in prevention of progression to late AMD.”2

The Digital Effect

The more time we spend on digital devices and the growth in e-sports has caused people to research what affect staring at screens has on our eyes. Research shows that potential effects of screen time may include eye fatigue, dry and irritated eyes, a loss of focus flexibility, nearsightedness and retinal damage.

To combat the problem, Melanie Bush, vice president of science and research at Artemis International, Inc., noted that dietary supplements that can specifically target the main symptoms of digital eye fatigue are gaining in importance and popularity. “Whether it is a professional e-sports athlete that can’t afford to be hindered by blurry vision, or the eye strain and dry eye that plagues many of us after long hours on screens for school or work, supplements that provide noticeable relief in these areas are relevant to the majority of today’s consumers,” she explained. “Improving microcirculation can play a role in healthy vision by allowing proper blood flow and nutrients to reach the eye tissues.”

Sevanti Mehta, president of Texas-based Unibar Corporation, agreed that e-sports is an area of increased focus for vision health. “Nutrition Business Journal reported that the global esports industry was valued at $947.1 million in 2020, and gaming supplement sales on Amazon saw a 122 percent growth year over year.” (ClearCut Analytics).

In addition, with the rise of e-sports and online gamers, consumers are often searching for ingredients that go beyond supporting their vision health concerns. “We are starting to see vision performance ingredients go beyond just supporting overall eye health,” Holstein said. “Consumers are seeking out ingredients to help protect against blue light, to help with e-gaming and ingredients that not only support their eye health, but support their cognitive health as well. Many times vision and cognitive performance go hand-in-hand in helping consumers achieve their specific health goals. As this trend continues, I think we will start to see more comprehensive supplements that help target multiple challenges consumers face.”

Vision Benefitting Ingredients

There are a number of ingredients that are beneficial to different aspects of vision health, with lutein, zeaxanthin, vitamin A, omega-3s and astaxanthin being some of the most well-known, long-standing ingredients. However, in recent years a number of other products benefitting eye health have been gaining traction.

“The visual health market is full of supplements with vitamin A precursors and antioxidant substances related to the ocular structure,” said Carlos Rodriguez, communication manager, Pharmactive Biotech Products, SLU (Madrid, Spain). “A clear example of this is the AREDS2 formula recommended by ophthalmologists. However, new ingredients are beginning to appear that provide complementary mechanisms of action to the classic ones. One of them is saffron, which is rich in one small carotenoid, the crocins. These have a polarity and antioxidant capacity similar to xanthophylls, but also reduce inflammatory damage and cell death that occurs in different eye diseases.”

Pharmactive’s affronEYE is an ingredient with high anti-inflammatory potential that helps protect retinal cells from intraocular pressure. In fact, a 2019 study in mice showed that affronEYE can produce neuroprotective anti-inflammatory effects against damage caused by increased intraocular pressure, thus protecting the retina, according to Rodriguez.

Due to the AREDS2 study, lutein and zeaxanthin gained a lot of attention in recent years. Both are members of the carotenoid family and are found in the macula and retina of the eye. Research shows that lutein and zeaxanthin can offer blue light protection, may help prevent cataracts, and can aid in slowing the progression of AMD.

Kemin offers FloraGLO Lutein is Kemin’s most successful vision health ingredient and has more than 100 clinical trials and has been on the market for 26 years. The company recently expanded its carotenoid portfolio of vision support ingredients to include Macu-LZ. “Macu-LZ combines lutein and zeaxanthin isomers in the optimal 5:1 ratio,” Holstein said. “Macu-LZ helps to support eye health and visual performance by protecting against blue light from digital devices while helping to alleviate the eye strain and fatigue from them as well.3 Beyond vision support, Macu-LZ also helps reduce psychological stress,4 support sleep quality5 and support cognitive function.6 The new ingredient Macu-LZ allows customers to buy a single product instead of lutein and zeaxanthin separately.”

According to Dr. Karin Hermoni, Lycored’s (Branchburg, NJ) head of science and nutrition, carotenoids like lutein and zeaxanthin support our eyes by working as powerful antioxidants. She added that another catenoid, lycopene, can work synergistically with lutein to benefit the eye. “Lycopene is the most easily oxidized carotenoid out of this group, so it is thought to ‘sacrifice’ itself to boost the beneficial properties of other phytonutrients,” she explained. “While in circulation, lycopene supports lutein through its journey to the eye by protecting it from oxidation. It also repairs and ‘recycles’ carotenoids that have been damaged, which reduces the chance that they’ll be turned into pro-oxidants.”

Lycomato from Lycored harnesses the power of lycopene from tomatoes and other phytonutrients to work synergistically with lutein in supporting eye health, comfort and resilience,” Hermoni noted. “It also supports these benefits in a ‘whole body’ way, improving blood flow and endothelial function for healthy circulation throughout the body, and improving cellular health, balancing oxidative stress and inflammation.”

Another carotenoid, capsanthin, is extracted from red peppers and is the first comprehensive molecule clinically shown to aid in five areas of eye health including, dry eye, macular pigment optical density (MPOD), intraocular pressure (IOP), blue and white light protection and eye strain and fatigue, according to Mehta.

“… CapsiClear has shown its potential for holistic eye health support due to its five-in-one eye health benefits. Not only does CapsiClear benefit MPOD, protect against blue and white light, and improve eye strain and fatigue, it also has an important and unique benefit for balancing IOP,” Mehta said. “To date, no other natural ingredient has shown this capability, but receiving support for IOP is important to decrease the risk of long-term nerve damage to the eye. In addition, research has revealed that supplementing with CapsiClear aided in dry eye symptoms, including a significant increase to tear production and regeneration, a decrease of corneal inflammation and aiding in IOP, further verifying past research of the proprietary capsanthin extract.”

Many berry extracts also offer protection for the eyes, due to their high antioxidant content. “Our portfolio includes many high-anthocyanin berry extracts including bilberry extracts, most popular for use in high-antioxidant and vision support products,” said Gallo. In recent years, we have been focusing on the increased vision issues, many due to the excessive use of digital devices.”

Gallo added that after a lot of research and development, including very specific European raw material extracted via a proprietary water and ultra-filtration process, Artemis launched CurrantCraft Black Currant Extract. “CurrantCraft has clinical validation showing decreased blurry vision symptoms by a substantial 29.9 percent and reduces other symptoms of eye discomfort.”

CurrantCraft is also beneficial for digital eye fatigue, according to Bush. “a recent human clinical study showed that taking a CurrantCraft Black Currant Extract supplement reported lower levels of blurry vision, eye strain and dry eye after excessive screen use compared to a placebo, suggesting a preventative mechanism,” she said.

BGG offers its bilberry ingredient, trademarked as MyrtiPRO. Majeed noted that while other ingredients in the company’s portfolio are newer, they are nonetheless impactful in the eye care marketplace, such as BGG’s Astaxanthin, branded as AstaZine.

CK Nutraceuticals recently launched MaquiBright, a proprietary Maqui Berry Extract from Patagonia, Chile, in partnership with Maqui New Life and Anklam Extrakt. According to Chernyak, multiple published studies demonstrate that MaquiBright promotes healthy tear production, which soothes dry eyes. In addition, MaquiBright can be utilized in numerous dosage formats, such as tablets, capsules, powders, gummies soft chews, among others.

“Well-demonstrated, cellular-level mechanisms of action are gaining strength for vision health supplements,” said Colleen Madden, CK Nutraceuticals’ vice president of innovation. “Lacrimal glands produce and release tears which cleanse and protect our eyes. In a study performed in cells of the lacrimal gland, it was shown that MaquiBright was able to penetrate this tissue and suppress inflammatory processes caused by oxidative stress, restoring the normal production of tears.” Madden noted that due to the ability of maqui berry-specific anthocyanins, like delphinidins, to enter acinar cells, the negative effects of oxidative stress on these sensitive lacrimal glands is diminished and tear fluid generation is restored.

Continued Category Growth

As people of all ages search for ways to keep their eyes healthy, the vision health category will continue to grow and expand. “The eye health category is still one of the top supplement channels, and it appears that it will only get stronger in the coming years as the population ages and becomes more concerned with their eyes and as more people suffer the ill effects of the eyes associated with overusing computers and smartphones,” said Majeed.

“The category is gaining more attention,” concluded Chernyak. “The market is heading in the direction of eye comfort, tear production and blue light protection, which is very much in line with demographic trends, as well as the way people are leading their lives in today’s world.” NIE


1 Vision Care Market: Global Industry Trends, Share, Size, Growth, Opportunity and Forecast 2022-2027.

2 Long-term Outcomes of Adding Lutein/Zeaxanthin and ω-3 Fatty Acids to the AREDS Supplements on Age-Related Macular Degeneration Progression – AREDS2 Report 28.

3 Stringham, J.M., O’Brien, K. J., & Stringham, N. T. (2016). Macular carotenoid supplementation improves disability glare performance and dynamics of photostress recovery. Eye and Vision, 3(1), 30.

4 Stringham, J.M., Stringham, N. T., & O’Brien, K. J. (2017). Macular carotenoid supplementation improves visual performance, sleep quality, and adverse physical symptoms in those with high screen time exposure. Foods, 6(7), 47.

5 Culver, M. F., Bowman, J., & Juturu, V. (2018). Lutein and Zeaxanthin Isomers Effect on Sleep Quality: A Randomized Placebo-Controlled Trial.

6 Stringham, N.T., Holmes, P. V., & Stringham, J. M. (2018). Supplementation with macular carotenoids reduces psychological stress, serum cortisol, and sub-optimal symptoms of physical and emotional health in young adults. Nutritional Neuroscience, 21(4), 286-296.

For More Information:

Artemis International, Inc., www.artemis-international.com
BGG Americas, Inc., http://bggworld.com
CK Nutraceuticals, www.ckingredients.com
Kemin Industries, www.kemin.com
Lycored, www.lycored.com
Pharmactive Biotech Products, SLU, www.pharmactive.eu
Unibar Corporation, www.unibarcorp.com

Albion Minerals®