Night Vision and Carotenoids (NVC): A Randomized Placebo Controlled Clinical Trial on Effects of Carotenoid Supplementation on Night Vision in Older Adults

Stuart Richer1,2,*, Steven Novil1, Taylor Gullett2, Avni Dervishi2, Sherwin Nassiri2, Co Duong2,Robert Davis3 and Pinakin Gunvant Davey4,*

  1. Captain James A Lovell Fed Health Care Facility, North Chicago, IL 60064, USA;
  2. Chicago Medical School, Rosalind Franklin University of Medicine and Science, North Chicago, IL 60064, USA; (T.G.); (A.D.); (S.N.); (C.D.)
  3. Davis Eye Care Associates, Oak Lawn, IL 60453, USA;
  4. College of Optometry, Western University of Health Sciences, Pomona, CA 91766, USA

* Correspondence: (S.R.); (P.G.D.)

Abstract: Twilight and low luminance levels are visually challenging environments for the elderly, especially when driving at night. Carotenoid rich diets are known to increase macular pigment optical density (MPOD), which in turn leads to an improvement in visual function. It is not known whether augmenting MPOD can lead to a decrease in vision related night driving difficulties. Additionally, it is unknown if carotenoid supplementation provides additional measurable benefits to one’s useful field of view (UFOV) along with a decreased composite crash risk score. The aim of the study was to evaluate changes in night vision function and UFOV in individuals that took carotenoid vitamin supplements for a six-month period compared to a placebo group. Methods: A prospective, randomized, double-blind, six-month trial of a 14 mg zeaxanthin/7 mg lutein-based supplement was carried out. Participants were randomized into active or placebo group (approx 2:1). Results: n = 33 participants (26 males/7 females) participated with 93% capsule intake compliance in the supplemented group (n = 24) and placebo group (n = 9). MPOD (mean/standard error SE) in the active group increased in the Right eye from 0.35 density units (du)/0.04 SE to 0.41 du/0.05 SE; p < 0.001 and in the Left eye from 0.35 du/0.05 SE to 0.37 du, p > 0.05). The supplemented group showed significant improvements in contrast sensitivity with glare in both eyes with improvements in LogMAR scores of 0.147 and 0.149, respectively (p = 0.02 and 0.01, respectively), monocularly tested glare recovery time improved 2.76 and 2.54 s, respectively, (p = 0.008 and p = 0.02), and we also noted a decreased preferred luminance required to complete visual tasks (p = 0.02 and 0.03). Improvements in UFOV scores of divided attention (p < 0.001) and improved composite crash risk score (p = 0.004) were seen in the supplemented group. The placebo group remained unchanged. Conclusions: The NVC demonstrates that augmenting MPOD in individuals with difficulty in night vision showed measurable benefits in numerous visual functions that are important for night vision driving in this small sample RCT. Additionally, we observed an improvement in UFOV divided attention test scores and decreased composite risk scores.

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