Supplementation with lutein and zeaxanthin could lead to net savings of over US$100M annually, says CRN study
27 Feb 2023 --- The authors estimate that if the US population with vision problems used a lutein and zeaxanthin supplement daily in 2022, this could have prevented 21,022 cases of transitions to more severe vision impairment states. An estimated 11.6 million Americans over 44 have some type of vision problem, including age-related macular degeneration (AMD).
“AMD is a disease for which there is no cure. Therefore, prevention or delay in progression is important,” says Elizabeth J. Johnson, Ph.D., adjunct professor at Tufts University’s Friedman School of Nutrition Science & Policy.
“To date, the scientific evidence to support a role for lutein, a dietary component commonly found in fruit and vegetables, needs to be considered in addressing this major public health issue.”
Looking at healthcare costs, population growth, disease risk growth and inflation, the authors expect the avoidable cases would translate into cost savings of US$902.8 million annually from 2022 to 2030.
When costs are included for these daily supplements to all US adults over 44, the research reveals that net savings would have been US$102.9 million in 2022 andr US$959.2 million in cumulative net savings from 2022-2030.
Potential health cost savings
The study, commissioned by the Council for Responsible Nutrition (CRN) Foundation and conducted by Frost & Sullivan, estimates that in 2021 costs of managing the burden of low vision and blindness in the US was US$39,310 per person suffering from low vision or blindness. This estimate is based on 2013 data on the economic burden of AMD.
Total costs of AMD and other low vision and blindness amounted to US$165.4 billion in 2021. The authors project that, on average, from 2022-2030, these costs will amount to US$185 billion annually.
Based on available studies on the relationship between lutein and zeaxanthin supplements and visual acuity, the authors extrapolated that if the US population with vision problems had used a supplement daily, the visual acuity of the target population could improve by 4.4%.
This estimate translates into 21,022 avoidable transitions to more severe vision impairment states. This number could increase to 22,414 cases in 2030 if all eligible users consumed the supplements.
The authors note that estimated cost savings are the maximum obtainable savings, assuming that none of the adults in the target population have used the supplements before.
They add that only 4% of supplement users over 55 regularly take lutein dietary supplements, representing 1.7% of the target population.
Eye health supplements
Lutein and zeaxanthin are carotenoids typically found in human diets. As the body cannot synthesize them, the nutrients must be consumed through diets or supplements.
Known for their antioxidant properties,they are found in green vegetables, specifically dark green leafy greens such as spinach and kale, orange, pepper, maize and eggs.
The nutrients are a vital component of macular pigment and concentrate in the macula lutea, an oval-shaped pigmented area in the center of the eye’s retina. Research implies that, as such, they help protect eyes and eyesight.
The American Optometric Association proposes that a daily intake of 10 mg of lutein and 2 mg of zeaxanthin benefits eye health based on clinical research results. CRN adds that this quantity is found in most products on the market.
The CRN report refers to studies that demonstrate increasing lutein or zeaxanthin intake in AMD patients improves visual acuity by increasing macular pigment. Studies show these nutrients increase macular pigment optical density when taken daily.
AMD is a chronic, progressive, degenerative eye disease primarily affecting people over 50. It is characterized by degeneration of the central part of the retina (the macula) and results in significant visual acuity or severe vision loss.
As a result, patients can become increasingly unable to perform daily activities independently or go outside without assistance. Along with emotional impact, patients require long-term care.
The CRN report lists CDC figures that 1.78 million US adults over 44 suffer from AMD.
In addition, 4.2 million Americans over 40 suffer from low vision or blindness and 7.17 million US adults over 44 are at significant risk of developing AMD soon.
By Jolanda van Hal
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