Can We Eat Our Way to a Healthy Macula? by Damon Dierker, OD, FAAO

You are what you eat — we’ve heard it since we were children. Not surprisingly, what we eat today is simply not as nutritious as a generation or two ago. Industrial farming techniques have caused many of our foods, especially fruits and vegetables, to be deficient in nutrients.1 Simply put, our diet lacks the necessary nutrients for our bodies to fight the constant barrage of inflammation and stress that we encounter on a daily basis.

Optimal Macular Function
The macula is one of the most metabolically active areas in the human body, and contains three specific carotenoids: lutein (L), zeaxanthin (Z), and meso-zeaxanthin (M).2 Collectively, these are known as the macular pigment (MP). Robust levels of MP are critical for macular function, as they have powerful anti-inflammatory, anti-oxidative, and blue light-filtering properties. Importantly, these carotenoids cannot be synthesized de novo and must be acquired from the diet.3 Interestingly, the foveal center is comprised almost entirely of Z and M, likely due to the internal isomerization of retinal L to retinal M.4