A carotenoid can be defined as “any of a class of yellow to red pigments, including the carotenes and the xanthophylls”. Astaxanthin is in this category and has a rich red pigment that can be seen in nature, specifically in ocean creatures such as shrimp, lobster, and salmon. Astaxanthin can be found in good amounts in krill oil, so people who take krill for Omega 3’s get the additional benefit of one of the most powerful antioxidants.

Various carotenoids have been shown in studies to improve vision and eye health, and a few of the more notable ones include lutein and zeaxanthin. These have both been shown to be essential for good long-term eye health. However, emerging evidence is showing that astaxanthin may be the king of all the carotenoids when it comes to improving vision, eye health, and overall well-being.

Astaxanthin has been widely studied in the last couple decades, and researchers have found a number of benefits associated its use. These include:

1)      Supporting Healthy Vision & Eyes

2)      Enhancing the Skin’s Protection from Sunlight/UV rays & Overall Health/Appearance

3)      Boosting Workouts & Workout Recovery

4)      Fighting Inflammation & Oxidative Stress – an Extremely Potent Antioxidant

5)      Improving Brain Health and Cognitive Function

6)      Protecting the Heart

7)      Improving Fertility in Men

A growing body of evidence is now showing astaxanthin’s remarkable potential for improving eye health. Below is a sample of 5 research articles detailing just a few of the many findings, which include improving “retinal diseases, ocular surface disorders, uveitis, cataract and asthenopia.” Astaxanthin has also been shown to protect the cornea and retina, in addition to reducing ocular oxidative stress and cell death.

Clinical Applications of Astaxanthin in the Treatment of Ocular Diseases: Emerging Insights https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/32370045/ “A growing body of evidence suggests that astaxanthin is efficacious in the prevention and treatment of several ocular diseases, ranging from the anterior to the posterior pole of the eye…The efficacy of this carotenoid in the setting of retinal diseases, ocular surface disorders, uveitis, cataract and asthenopia is reported in numerous animal and human studies, which highlight its ability of modulating several metabolic pathways, subsequently restoring the cellular homeostatic balance.”

Amelioration of ultraviolet-induced photokeratitis in mice treated with astaxanthin eye drops https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/22393271/

 “UVB exposure induced cell death and thinning of the corneal epithelium. However, the epithelium was morphologically well preserved after irradiation in AST-treated corneas. Irradiated corneal epithelium was significantly thicker in eyes treated with AST eye drops, compared to those treated with vehicles (p<0.01), in a doses dependent manner. Significantly fewer apoptotic cells were observed in AST-treated eyes than controls after irradiation (p<0.01). AST also reduced oxidative stress in irradiated corneas. The in vitro study showed less cytotoxicity of TKE2 cells in AST-treated cultures after UVB-irradiation (p<0.01). The cytoprotective effect increased with the dose of AST.”

Astaxanthin attenuates the apoptosis of retinal ganglion cells in db/db mice by inhibition of oxidative stress: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/23519150/

“Astaxanthin is a carotenoid with powerful antioxidant properties that exists naturally in various plants, algae and seafood. Here, astaxanthin was shown to reduce the apoptosis of RGCs and improve the levels of oxidative stress markers, including superoxide anion, malondialdehyde (MDA, a marker of lipid peroxidation), 8-hydroxy-2-deoxyguanosine (8-OHdG, indicator of oxidative DNA damage) and MnSOD (manganese superoxide dismutase) activity in the retinal tissue of db/db mouse. In addition, astaxanthin attenuated hydrogen peroxide(H2O2)-induced apoptosis in the transformed rat retinal ganglion cell line RGC-5. Therefore, astaxanthin may be developed as an antioxidant drug to treat diabetic retinopathy.”

Astaxanthin Inhibits Expression of Retinal Oxidative Stress and Inflammatory Mediators in Streptozotocin-Induced Diabetic Rats: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/26765843/

“Retinal functions were preserved by AST and lutein in different levels. Ocular tissues from AST- and lutein-treated rats had significantly reduced levels of oxidative stress mediators (8-hydroxy-2'-deoxyguanosine, nitrotyrosine, and acrolein) and inflammatory mediators (intercellular adhesion molecule-1, monocyte chemoattractant protein-1, and fractalkine), increased levels of antioxidant enzymes (heme oxygenase-1 and peroxiredoxin), and reduced activity of the transcription factor nuclear factor-kappaB (NF-κB).”

Suppressive effect of astaxanthin on retinal injury induced by elevated intraocular pressure: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/20457203/ “When compared to controls, EIOP significantly increased retinal protein oxidation which returned to baseline levels in ASX treated EIOP group. NOS-2 expression determined by Western blot analysis and immunohistochemical staining was significantly greater in rats with EIOP compared to ASX and control groups. Retinal TUNEL staining showed apoptosis in all EIOP groups; however ASX treatment significantly decreased the percent of apoptotic cells when compared to non treated ocular hypertensive controls. The presented data confirm the role of oxidative injury in EIOP and highlight the protective effect of ASX in ocular hypertension.”