The Eyes Have It: Supplements and Eye Health

High lutein consumption to fight macular degeneration may lead to crystal deposits in the eyes

(RxWiki News) When taking lutein to fight age-related macular degeneration, there may be a risk of having too much of a good thing.

A recently published case report describes a patient who was referred to an eye clinic because she had crystal deposits in her eyes. The patient had been taking a lutein supplement for eight years and eating a diet rich in lutein, which is found in vegetables like kale, broccoli and spinach.

Lutein is often prescribed to help slow or prevent age-related macular degeneration (AMD), an eye health problem that can cause progressive vision loss.

The patient described in the case report was taking well over the recommended dose of lutein each day. 

"The patient quit taking the lutein supplement, but maintained her diet rich in lutein, and, after seven months, the crystals in the right eye disappeared," said lead case report author Paul Bernstein, MD, PhD, of the University of Utah, in a press release.

The extra lutein appeared to be behind the crystals in the patient's eyes, but the case report authors called for a full-scale study on the subject before any recommendations can be made. Case reports focus on just one case, rather than the hundreds or thousands often covered in clinical trials. 

Still, it can't hurt to talk to your doctor or pharmacist to make sure you're taking the right amounts of your supplements and medications.

This case report was published in JAMA Ophthalmology

Grants from the National Institutes of Health and Research to Prevent Blindness funded this research. Dr. Bernstein held a patent related to aspects of this research and received fees and supplies from several health companies.

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Review Date: 
November 2, 2016