Chrysantis announced that it was launching its proprietary EZ Eyes marigold extracts with a high natural zeaxanthin content in March, after developing plants with carotenoid profiles ranging from 75 percent zeaxanthin and 5 percent lutein to 50 percent zeaxanthin and 50 percent lutein.
Most marigolds have a carotenoid profile of 80 percent lutein to 5 percent zeaxanthin.
Like lutein, zeaxanthin is a dietary carotenoid found in the macula, the central part of the retina in the eye that is responsible for most fine vision.
A study published in Opthalmology and Visual Science (2003; volume 44; pp2461-2465) suggested that lutein alone may not be enough to protect against age-related macular degeneration (AMD), a progressive eye disease which affects the central macula of the eye leaving sufferers with only peripheral vision.
AMD affects more than 10 million adults in the United States and is the leading cause of blindness amongst over-55s.
According to Chrysantis general manager Manuel Pavon, zeaxanthin is a better antioxidant than lutein, is better at absorbing blue light and is also very good at protecting tissues from the products of lipid oxidation.
He said recent research has also indicated that zeaxanthin supplementation is especially important for women and individuals who are overweight, a finding that means it could make its way into a broader range of supplement formulas.
Terry Hatfield, president of ZeaVision, said: "Chrysantis will help in building awareness about the importance of zeaxanthin in eye health, which has the potential to positively impact millions of people that either have or are at risk of having macular degeneration."
Hatfield also expressed pleasure at having access to a new source of natural dietary zeaxanthin.
ZeaVision has ferociously protected its zeaxanthin patents in the past. In September 2003 the St Louis firm reported that it had settled a patent infringement case with two supplement makers, Geres Dengle and Vitamin Sciences, under which the companies signed consent decrees admitting the validity of ZeaVision's patents and agreed to desist from further infringement.
Last year it reached a settlement in its patent infringement case with DSM Nutritionals, granting DSM a limited, non-exclusive license to its patents related to zeaxanthin.
The company is currently launching a new line of products for macular health called EyePromise.