Eyeing up food supplements for healthy vision

Key nutrients can improve vision both in ageing and in healthy eyes, according to EU-funded research. Doctors are now prescribing supplements of these nutrients, while the researchers are investigating other possible health benefits.

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Countries
Countries
  Algeria
  Argentina
  Australia
  Austria
  Bangladesh
  Belarus
  Belgium
  Benin
  Bolivia
  Brazil
  Bulgaria
  Burkina Faso
  Cambodia
  Cameroon
  Canada
  Cape Verde
  Chile
  China
  Colombia
  Costa Rica
  Croatia
  Cyprus
  Czechia
  Denmark
  Ecuador
  Egypt
  Estonia
  Ethiopia
  Faroe Islands
  Finland
  France
  French Polynesia
  Georgia


  Infocentre

Published: 22 November 2018  
Related theme(s) and subtheme(s)
Frontier research (ERC)
Health & life sciencesHealth & ageing  |  Medical research
Countries involved in the project described in the article
Ireland
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Eyeing up food supplements for healthy vision

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© Nolan 2011

Inside fruit and vegetables are pigments, known as carotenoids, which can boost health. Three of these – lutein, zeaxanthin and meso-zeaxanthin – protect the eye’s macula, which is responsible for central and detailed vision.

Extensive eye tests in the EU-funded CREST project showed that supplements of these carotenoids can help people to see better. The project researchers also identified the best way to enrich the combination of the pigments to optimise the eye’s use of light.

The results are important for patients in the early stages of age-related macular degeneration (AMD) as well as people who need sharp vision for their jobs, such as police officers or sportspeople.

‘These carotenoids are now routinely used in eye care. Doctors are prescribing them internationally with great success,’ says Professor John Nolan of the Waterford Institute of Technology, who led CREST using a European Research Council grant.

New horizons

Nolan and his team have continued to study data from CREST. An analysis they published in early 2018 showed that carotenoids also help memory and reactions. ‘This is a new horizon. We are applying for a grant to take this further,’ Nolan says. He adds that other follow-on studies by the team, supported by the Howard Foundation UK, have shown that carotenoids may improve the quality of life for patients with Alzheimer’s disease.

In total, CREST researchers have received almost EUR 6.5 million of private and public funding for follow-on work. According to Nolan, ‘The ERC is one of the best research programmes out there. It created a unique platform to attract the best scientists and do the best research, which attracted funding.

‘We are also getting international attention at conferences,’ Nolan adds. ‘We are leveraging the ERC’s investment to take research to the next level.’

CREST’s legacy could impact healthcare policy. ‘The growing cost of AMD disease is not affordable,’ Nolan says. ‘The advantage of this preventative treatment for healthcare finances is a possible topic for a future project.’

Project details

  • Project acronym: CREST
  • Participants: Ireland (Coordinator)
  • Project N°: 281096
  • Total costs: € 1 493 342
  • EU contribution: € 1 493 342
  • Duration: October 2011 to September 2016

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