Q: How can bilberry and other nutrients help maintain my eye health?
A: Bilberry (Vaccinium myrtillus L.) is a shrub that is native to northern Europe. The fruit of bilberry naturally contains plant pigments known as anthocyanins. These powerful antioxidants scavenge the body for free radicals, prevent or reverse damaged cells, and are the key bioactive compounds for numerous health benefits.
The best-known benefit of bilberry is for eye health. For example, the anti-inflammatory ability of bilberry is thought to have a protective effect on the visual function during retinal inflammation. Researchers have also studied bilberry for many other potential health benefits, such as fighting macular degeneration, as well as reducing risk of heart disease, stroke, and cancer.
Other nutrients, such as vitamins A, C, and E; zinc; lutein and zeaxanthin; and DHA are also very important compounds in protecting and maintaining eye health.
- Vitamin A is essential for retinal photoreceptor pigment formation.
- Vitamin C and E help protect against oxidative damage.
- Zinc plays an important role in retina and lens metabolism.
- Lutein and zeaxanthin are pigments in the eye that are thought to help prevent oxidative damage.
- The omega-3 fatty acid DHA is essential for retina function, vision development, vision recovery, preventing dry eye syndrome, and lowering the risk of age-related macular degeneration.
Although it’s always important to check with your health care practitioner to ensure a supplement is right for you, the combination of bilberry with other nutrients may be essential to support and maintain eye health.