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Lutein and zeaxanthin (another eye-loving carotenoid found in the same foods as lutein) are the only carotenoids found in the retina and lens of the eye. Lutein is especially concentrated in the macula, the area of the retina responsible for central vision. Studies suggest that diets rich in lutein and zeaxanthin may help slow the progression of age-related macular degeneration (AMD) and cataracts by protecting the eyes from oxidative stress from environmental pollutants and exposure to the sun’s ultraviolet rays. The Age-Related Eye Disease Study (AREDS), conducted by the National Institutes of Health, examined the effects of a “cocktail” of nutrients—including lutein—on the risk of cataracts and AMD. The nutrients reduced the risk of progressing to advanced AMD and helped to preserve vision longer.

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