Cataracts, glaucoma, and age-related macular degeneration (AMD) are common causes of blindness in the elderly population of the United States. Additional risk factors include obesity, smoking, and inadequate antioxidant status.
Phytochemicals, as antioxidants and anti-inflammatory agents, may help prevent or delay the progression of these eye diseases. Observational and clinical trials support the safety of higher intakes of the phytochemicals lutein and zeaxanthin and their association with reducing risks of cataracts in healthy postmenopausal women and improving clinical features of AMD in patients.
Additional phytochemicals of emerging interest, like green tea catechins, anthocyanins, resveratrol, and Ginkgo biloba, shown to ameliorate ocular oxidative stress, deserve more attention in future clinical trials.