Special Issue "Visual Function and Nutrition"

A special issue of Nutrients (ISSN 2072-6643). This special issue belongs to the section "Clinical Nutrition".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: 15 August 2021.

Special Issue Editors

Dr. Stuart Richer
Guest Editor
Captain James A Lovell Federal Health Care Center, North Chicago, IL, USA
Interests: vision , aging, epigenetics, cataract, driving-vision, diet related macular degeneration, vision performance
Dr. John Paul SanGiovanni
Guest Editor
Center for the Study of Nutrient-Responsive Systems, University of Arizona Department of Nutritional Sciences and University of Arizona BIO5 Institute; Rockville, MD and Tucson AZ
Interests: human nutrition, retinal health and disease, integrative omics, physiological imaging, model human microphysiological systems
Special Issues and Collections in MDPI journals

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

Modern environmental stressors, genetic predisposition and aging simultaneously impact the health of living ocular tissues. This is likely the reason that two seemingly similar young healthy college age students could have vastly different visual performance and visual processing abilities. Nutritional status remains an underutilized and actionable clinical science for optometrists and ophthalmologists to utilize for the benefit of individual patients who want to perform better. With few exceptions,  eye doctors ignore the individual and public health significance of changes in the cornea, lens, ocular media, retina and brain by failing to measure and document the subtle changes in visual function that can point to underlying tissue dysfunction and / or visual pathway dysfunction from nutrient depletion, and predispose the individual to eye disease. For example, assessment of “macula pigment optical density”, itself dependent upon dietary carotenoid intake and other physiological factors can impact global visual performance measures.Because the cornea, lens, retina and brain itself maintain intimate associations with health, vision, neural -visualpathways. Nutritional status remains an underutilized and actionable clinical science for optometrists and ophthalmologists to utilize for the benefit of individual patients who want to perform better.

In this special issue of Nutrients, we examine the role of diet and dietary components in promoting visual performance, for driving, sports and within military medicine.  Our Guest Special Topics Editors invite Original and Review Contributions in this Nutrients Special Issue devoted to the intersection of the sciences of visual function and nutrition.

Dr. Stuart Richer
Dr. John Paul SanGiovanni
Guest Editors

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All papers will be peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a single-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Nutrients is an international peer-reviewed open access monthly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 2400 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.


  • vision 
  • performance 
  • macular pigment 
  • environment 
  • aging 
  • sports vision 
  • driving vision 
  • military vision 
  • e-gaming-vision

Published Papers

This special issue is now open for submission, see below for planned papers.

Planned Papers

The below list represents only planned manuscripts. Some of these manuscripts have not been received by the Editorial Office yet. Papers submitted to MDPI journals are subject to peer-review.

1. Carotenoid Supplementation Enhances Driving “Useful Field of Vision or UFOV” (Night Vision & Carotenoids or NVC Study) Randomized Placebo Controlled Trial

Twilight & low luminance challenge older patients, especially when driving. It has been established that denser retinal macular pigment optical density (MPOD), resulting from dietary or supplemental xanthophyll carotenoids is associated with improvements in visual quality and performance. However, its unknown whether Useful Field of Vision (UFOV) is improved with xanthophyll carotenoid supplementation.  The Night Vision and Carotenoid Study is a randomized controlled clinical trial (RCT) of older veterans with a night vision disability. Interestingly, obese supplemented subjects with initial low macular pigment, and further disadvantaged by increased adiposity / cholecystectomy (reducing their carotenoid / fat soluble vitamin absorption), demonstrated improvements in aspects of visual function, UFOV scores and imputed driving crash risk composite scores comparable to placebo non-obese subjects with intact gallbladders. The practical application is that a once daily capsule of a zeaxanthin based nutritional supplement shows promise in restoring night vision and improved driving performance

2. Nutrition for Visual Performance in Sports

Abstract´╝ÜCompetitive athletes are continuously searching for ways to elevate performance abilities in their sport. Advances in nutritional support have produced dietary approaches to optimize physical performance factors such as strength, endurance, and recovery. Nutritional options to improve visual performance can be a neglected element in the preparation for competition. Recent placebo-controlled research has demonstrated that the carotenoids lutein (L) and zeaxanthin (Z) can improve visual performance factors in healthy eyes. The history, mechanisms of action, as well as their effects and potential benefits as shown in well-controlled trials, are reviewed. Recommendations for athletes with regard to modifications of diet to increase intake of carotenoids, or supplementation with purified forms of L and Z are discussed.

3. Baseline ocular parameters predicting difficulty in night vision

Purpose: Twilight and low luminance conditions challenge vision, even more so for elderly patients with degenerative disease. With the aging of the population, there’s a clinical need to quickly assess patients who encounter such difficulties. We evaluated five clinical tests that might have a high correlation with a low luminance questionnaire (LLQ).

Methods: Following Informed Consent, n= 30 veterans (26 m, 4 f), ages 63.5 SD 11.4, without AMD (AREDS Simplified Scale 1), or retinal pathology, were recruited into a prospective, placebo-controlled RCT assessing supplemental carotenoids against night vision performance. Baseline scores of LLQ were obtained using a global composite 32 item survey instrument. Baseline clinical data (variables) of 1-degree macular pigment optical density MPOD (QuantifEye®), Dark Adaptometry (DAR / Adapt Dx®), photostress recovery (MDD2), photophobia (LUX 5000), and distance EDTRS acuity with/without a 2.0 du filter. An individual’s eyes were evaluated separately, as difficulties identified in the LLQ can result from subclinical monocular anatomical / functional deficits. Pearson’s correlations were calculated for all the variables and LLQ. Linear and stepwise regression analysis was performed with the variables to construct the predictive model.

Results: MPOD had a superior correlation with LLQ when compared to the other variables assessed. For OD, two predictive baseline parameters (MPOD and DAR) individually predicted 17.5% and 14% respectively. For OS, two predictive baseline parameters predicted 8.6% and 2.4% respectively.

Conclusions: Self-assessed global low luminance performance correlates with macular pigment optical density and dark adaptation even in patients without the retinal disease.

4. Nutrients and bioactive in the amelioration of asthenopia “Digital Eye Strain” – A review

Abstract: The warp speed adoption of hand-held digital devices like tablets and smartphones has added a burden on the human eye. Although they look harmless at first glance, using these regularly and continuously for extended periods has led to individuals reporting asthenopia which is now characterized as Digital Eye Strain (DES). Here we provide background information on ocular and physiological changes that are observed in the digital user. We further explore the negative consequences of various structures of the eye are discussed. Particular attention is given to blue light impact, ciliary muscle fatigue, and blinking role in the health of the ocular surface. This article further evaluates the literature and summarizes the hypotheses, the modes of action (MOA) of these dietary constituents. impact and effects of oral nutrients and plant bioactive intake on functions of the eye. The role of carotenoids, macular pigment optical density measurement, and nutrition in managing DES are also discussed along with several strategies for managing the eye fatigue that accompanies excessive use of digital devices.

5.The Early Benefits of Lutein in Eye and Brain – A Review

Lutein is a dietary carotenoid preferentially accumulated in the eye and the brain in early life and throughout the life span. Lutein accumulation in areas of high metabolisms and oxidative stress such as the eye and the brain suggests a unique role of this ingredient during the development and maturation of these organs of common embryological origin. This paper aims to review the anatomical development of the eye and the brain, explore the presence and selective deposition of lutein in these organs during pregnancy and infancy  and, based on its functional characteristics, present the latest available research on the beneficial role of lutein in this sensible population. The potential effects of lutein in ameliorating conditions associated with increase oxidative stress such as in prematurity will be also addressed.

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