The eye's natural protection against blue light

Macular pigments are your eye’s natural protection against dangerous violet-blue light and oxidative damage.


What are macular pigments?

Macular pigments are molecules known as carotenoids, which you only get from your diet.

Although there are as many as 50 different carotenoid pigments in our diet, only three – lutein, zeaxanthin and meso-zeaxanthin – get concentrated in a thin layer in the macular region of the retina, just in front of your light sensitive photoreceptors.

Your macular pigments act like natural sunglasses, protecting the retina from high-energy visible (HEV) violet-blue light, and also act as antioxidants neutralizing free radicals and reactive oxygen species.

How do macular pigments protect the eye?

Macular pigments absorb HEV violet-blue light (yellow line in graph) that is the most damaging to the retina (380-500 nm).

The macular pigments absorb as much as 90% of damaging HEV light before it hits the retina (retinal light hazard, blue area in graph), protecting the retina from violet-blue light, as well as providing antioxidant support to counter the adverse effects of photochemical damage.

How do macular pigments affect vision?

In addition to protecting the retina, the absorption of HEV light reduces blue light scatter in the eye, improving contrast sensitivity and reducing glare, contributing to better visual performance.

How can we protect the retina?

The graph above, shows that macular pigments absorb up to 90% of the harmful violet-blue light before it reaches the retina. The more macular pigments you have, the less violet-blue light damage you will incur.

A greater density of macular pigments in your retina is reported to reduce the risk of the leading causes of incurable sight loss (age-related macular degeneration).

The problem is you can’t tell how much macular pigment someone has just by looking at them. Macular pigment density is affected by genetics, diet, obesity, fitness, cigarette smoke, and blue light exposure.

Why have an MP-eye test?

The MP-eye quickly and easily assesses macular pigment levels in the eye, to identify those with low levels of natural protection against violet-blue light and oxidative damage.

Eye care professionals can then advise those with low protection on lifestyle improvements and available products that help them protect their vision.

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