Editorially Independent Content
In my practice, we have looked at a lot of different ocular nutrition products over the years and always hesitated to recommend a particular product because there were often wide cost variations and we did not feel there were convincing data in favor of one versus another. Lumega-Z (Guardion Health Sciences), a vision specific medical food created to replenish and restore the macular protective pigment, is different for several reasons.
Designation of Lumega-Z as a medical food means that it is specially formulated treat or manage a specific disease or condition and must be recommended and administered under the supervision of a physician or professional healthcare provider. Most importantly, there is a large body of data showing that patients who take Lumega-Z have an increase in their macular pigment optical density. This is a measure that is objectively obtained and is of wide interest in the nutrition community because it correlates with visual performance on low contrast testing. More precisely, it correlates with protecting neuronal cells in the retina against macular degeneration and glaucoma. That combination of factors makes me more confident in recommending this nutritional product over all the other options on the market.
How It Works
Lumega-Z contains many antioxidants and the three carotenoids that make up the macular protective pigment–Lutein, Zeaxanthin, and Meso-Zeaxanthin. Meso-Zeaxanthin, the most important of these carotenoids, is not naturally found in food. The nutrients are delivered through a micronized lipid-based liquid formula that promotes efficiency of absorption. Controlled studies with other nutritionals have not shown the same increases in macular pigment density, so I feel confident that Lumega-Z is making a physiologic change in the eye of my patient.
Making the Recommendation
Having a nutritional product that we are confident will deliver results based on science actually makes the conversation with patients about nutrition fairly short. Because we recommend one specific product that is easy to obtain, we have also seen good compliance. Lumega-Z is a liquid with a pleasant taste so it is easy for patients to take, and the daily dose can even be diluted in water, juice, or a smoothie.
In my practice, a variety of patients use Lumega-Z. We have those who are at risk of macular degeneration, who have macular degeneration and want to prevent progression, and patients who have no signs of macular disease but take it for future protection. Additionally, we are beginning to recommend it for patients who are at risk for glaucoma damage because growing evidence suggests that macular pigments protect the nerve fiber layer cells that preserve the optic nerve in glaucoma patients.
The cost to a patient is $50 or $60 per month, which is higher than products like Centrum or other over-the-counter products, but it is in a completely different category. As a medical food, its quality and bioavailability means that we can deliver a much higher concentration of the essential carotenoids and other elements to the eye. The knowledge that this product is extremely likely to make a difference to ocular physiology for most patients negates the cost. Naturally, patients on a fixed income may not be able to afford an extra expense each month so we have to be sensitive to that as doctors. But we often find that people will find the resources if they feel confident that the product will work for them.