In modern times, the stress placed on our eyes far exceeds that of any other time in history. One of the worst offenders is the artificial blue light from TVs, phones, computers, and LED lights, which has been shown in numerous studies to damage our eye photoreceptors. Exposure to this light can potentially cause irreversible damage to the eye tissue, which is why nutrients called carotenoids are so crucial to keep your eyes sharp and healthy for the long-term.

A carotenoid can be defined as “any of a class of yellow to red pigments, including the carotenes and the xanthophylls.” Carotenes include beta-carotene, lycopene, and alpha-carotene, and are usually orange to red in color. These can be found in foods such as carrots, bell peppers, tomatoes, and watermelon. Xanthophylls are even more powerful healthy vision promoters. These include lutein, zeaxanthin, and beta-cryptoxanthin. In the scientific literature, lutein and zeaxanthin are described as essential for eye wellness. To emphasize this point, carotenoid consumption has been shown to reduce the risk of both cataracts and Age-Related Macular Degeneration (AMD), two of the leading causes of legal blindness in industrial countries. It’s been shown that these xanthophylls must be accumulated in the yellow eye spot to protect the retina from excess light and ultraviolet damage.

The retina is the thin layer on the back of the eye, and can be compared to the film of a camera. There are two types of photoreceptor cells in the retina. The first are named cones, responsible for daytime vision, and the second are called rods, capable of vision in low light, or nighttime, conditions. Rod cells are activated only by the light-sensitive protein rhodopsin. It turns out that carotenoids are the precursors for rhodopsin, making compounds like lutein and zeaxanthin absolutely vital for good night vision.

These color pigments wear out easily due to the daily demands on your eyes and need to be continually replaced. While lutein and zeaxanthin may have been adequate for past generations to protect eyesight, today’s blue light challenges demand the greatest carotenoid of them all, astaxanthin. Astaxanthin is a deep red pigment that can be seen in nature, specifically in ocean creatures such as shrimp, crab, lobster, algae, and salmon.

So how good is astaxanthin, really? In a study review that compared the free radical fighting ability of different antioxidants, astaxanthin reigned supreme. It was deemed 6000 times more powerful than Vitamin C at scavenging the reactive oxygen species implicit in oxidative stress. CoQ10 was dominated by a factor of 800, and Vitamin E was beaten 550 times over. Alpha Lipoic Acid came in a distant second place at 1/75th the potency, making astaxanthin the undisputed king of not only carotenoids, but of all known dietary antioxidants.

4 quick research points further demonstrate its amazing potential for eye health.

- Astaxanthin is able to relieve snow-blindness, known as keratitis or sunburned eyes, in mice.

- Diabetic rats given a combination of astaxanthin and lutein displayed a significant decrease in oxidative stress and inflammation markers, showing great potential for the condition diabetic retinopathy.

- Elevated Intraocular pressure, or EIOP, is a suspected factor in the eye disease glaucoma. Astaxanthin was shown to significantly suppress oxidative injury and cell death in rats’ eyes following induced EIOP.

-  Retinal ganglion cells dying off is a common feature of many retinal disorders such as glaucoma, optic neuropathies and diabetic retinopathy. This phenomena not only leads to loss of vision, but also to the dreaded Alzheimer’s disease, as these 3 conditions all involve beta-amyloid proteins and tau tangles at the cellular level. Research has provided evidence that astaxanthin can help protect these cells from acute glaucoma, oxidative stress, and apoptosis, meaning cell death.

- RPE (Retinal Pigment Endothelium) cell death plays a key role in AMD pathogenesis. Further evidence showed that astaxanthin suppresses the choroidal neovascularization that is associated with AMD.

In addition to consuming these valuable carotenoids regularly, one thing you can do to reduce eye damage is install blue-light blocking software on your phone, computer, or tablet. Several great free options exist such as Iris, Flux, Red Shift, and Windows Night Light, and links to these can be found in the article link below:

Blue Light Blocker/Filter Article:

Source Links:

1)      Effects of blue light on the circadian system and eye physiology:

2)      Mechanisms of blue light-induced eye hazard and protective measures: a review:

3)      Dietary Sources of Lutein and Zeaxanthin Carotenoids and Their Role in Eye Health:


5)      The global state of cataract blindness:

6)      Physiology, Night Vision:

7)      Carotenoids of biotechnological importance:

8)      Protective Effect of Astaxanthin on Blue Light Light-Emitting Diode-Induced Retinal Cell Damage via Free Radical Scavenging and Activation of PI3K/Akt/Nrf2 Pathway in 661W Cell Model

9)      Mitochondrion-Permeable Antioxidants to Treat ROS-Burst-Mediated Acute Diseases:

10)   Immune-system activation depletes retinal carotenoids in house finches:

11)   Astaxanthin Inhibits Expression of Retinal Oxidative Stress and Inflammatory Mediators in Streptozotocin-Induced Diabetic Rats:

12)   Amelioration of ultraviolet-induced photokeratitis in mice treated with astaxanthin eye drops   

13)   Inhibition of choroidal neovascularization with an anti-inflammatory carotenoid astaxanthin:

14)   Suppressive effect of astaxanthin on retinal injury induced by elevated intraocular pressure:

15)   Astaxanthin protects retinal ganglion cells from acute glaucoma via the Nrf2/HO-1 pathway:

16)   Clinical Applications of Astaxanthin in the Treatment of Ocular Diseases: Emerging Insights

17)   Retinal Degeneration and Alzheimer's disease: An Evolving Link

18)   Inhibition of choroidal neovascularization with an anti-inflammatory carotenoid astaxanthin

19)   Intracranial pressure and glaucoma: