The Effect of Lutein and Zeaxanthin on Premature Infant Eye Development

Nicole Haber, Roschelle Heuberger

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Infant eye development is a complex process highly impacted by premature birth. Current prevention and treatment options for retinopathy of prematurity (ROP), one of the significant comorbities of prematurity, are limited and arguably ineffective. The objective of this review was to evaluate the current literature on lutein and zeaxanthin in preterm infants. Secondary to their supportive role in eye development and functionality, it is hypothesized that they are able to modulate the development and progression of ROP. Lutein and zeaxanthin concentrations in human milk are highest during early milk production and significantly differ among populations. The literature reviewed shows an inverse correlation of maternal human milk consumption and ROP incidence. Xanthophyll supplementation studies, although deemed safe, have not shown significant improvements in ROP reduction, although multiple limitations are noted. Currently supplemented infant formulas with lutein and zeaxanthin are effective at decreasing inflammation and potentially provide photoreceptor protection. The current literature available remains inconclusive regarding lutein and zeaxanthin supplementation on decreasing ROP incidence. Further randomized controlled trials that rigorously control for confounding variables are required.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)73-85
Number of pages13
JournalInfant, Child, and Adolescent Nutrition
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 2014


  • eye development
  • infant
  • lutein
  • retinopathy of prematurity
  • zeaxanthin


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