Antonio Diaz Perez1,Bryson Trask1, & Bert H. Jacobson FACSM1

1 Oklahoma State University, Stillwater, Oklahoma

Carotenoids act as macular pigments that have a crucial role in visual function and disease prevention. Two important carotenoids that are highly concentrated in the macula of the eye are zeaxanthin (Z) and lutein (L). These macular pigments play a critical role in visual acuity and help protect the retinas from potentially harmful blue light that may cause oxidative damage. One important visual function that L and Z may help to improve is critical flicker fusion (CFF). CFF is the point at which the visual system can no longer perceive rapid changes in light stimulus and it is used to assess the processing of temporal vision. Previous research on the effects of Z and L on measures of CFF have not been thoroughly examined and more research is necessary. PURPOSE: The purpose of this study was to investigate the effect of acute supplementation with L+Z, Z independently, L independently, or a placebo on critical flicker fusion (CFF) performance. METHODS: CFF was assessed by presenting a square-wave stimulus on a computer monitor. The light flicker increased in frequency until the participant perceived the light source to appear to be a solid light. Each of the four trials were timed from the initial flicker until the participant perceived a solid, non-flickering light. The time the participant stopped the video when flickering stopped was recoded in milliseconds. 50 healthy college-aged participants were pre-tested on CFF and subsequently provided with seven days of either 5mg Z, 30mg L, a combination of 5mg Z and 30mg L, or placebo supplements. Following the supplementation period, participants were test again on CFF. RESULTS: For the critical flicker fusion (CFF) assessment pre-to post-test results yielded significant improvement (p<0.05) in the combination of lutein and zeaxanthin condition only. CONCLUSION: Supplementation with lutein and zeaxanthin may help to further improve measures of CFF by helping to increase temporal processing speed. Furthermore, supplementing with lutein and zeaxanthin may help to improve contrast sensitivity and protect against visual fatigue when trying to detect changes in light frequencies.

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