The carotenoids lutein (L), zeaxanthin (Z) and meso-zeaxanthin (MZ) accumulate at the central retina, the macula, where they are collectively known as macular pigment (MP). The distinctive yellow colour of this pigment is due to the conjugated double bonds of the carotenoids. MP, via its antioxidant and light-filtering properties is believed to protect against age-related macular degeneration (AMD, the leading cause of blindness in developed countries), and has been shown to enhance visual performance in retinas with (e.g. AMD) and free of retinal disease. While L and Z are naturally present in a variety of foods (e.g. spinach, peppers and eggs) MZ is not found in these foods, but has been detected in trout (flesh and skin), sardines, salmon, shrimp, and turtle fat, albeit in low concentrations. However, although MZ is present in low concentrations in diet, it contributes one third of MP concentration. This observation raises a number of questions. Are there other dietary sources of MZ which have not been identified to date? Where does MZ come from (diet, L, both)? What mechanism is responsible for the conversion of L to MZ? What role does this carotenoid play at the macula? This project (The Waterford MZ Project) is studying the origin of MZ. By studying this carotenoid in different food groups and tissues, we have identified and developed extraction and analytical techniques that facilitate the analysis of MZ. Here we present data showing the presence of this carotenoid in food (e.g. fish), commercially available supplements, and in chicken eyes. Future work on this project will use these protocols to fully explore the origin of MZ, whether dietary or exclusively generated at the macula following isomerisation of L, as previously postulated.