Zeaxanthin belongs to a class of antioxidant compounds called carotenoids. In the eye, lutein is the predominant carotenoid (located in the periphery of the macula), while the concentration of zeaxanthin is greatest in the center, where conditions most favor the formation of free radicals.
Both lutein and zeaxanthin are important in maintaining eye health. In their capacity as pigments, these compounds help screen out high-energy light, protecting underlying tissues from photo-induced damage. They also act as antioxidants, helping to protect the macula from damage due to oxidative stress. Both functions can help reduce the risk of age-related eye disease.
Zeaxanthin is found in many food sources. Dark green leafy vegetables (such as spinach) are the primary source. Lesser amounts are available in other colorful fruits and vegetables, including broccoli, orange peppers, corn, peas, persimmons, and tangerines.