Grapes Could Prevent Age-Related Blindness


Grapes have tonic, energizing, remineralizing, diuretic and anti-toxic properties. They are also known for their rich content of antioxidant compounds that combat the damaging effects of free radicals and prevent the so-called aging diseases.

A new study published in Free Radical Biology and Medicine showed that grapes combat the onset of macular degeneration or even slow down the development of this disease. Protective effects are due to the strong antioxidants that they contain.

What is macular degeneration? 
Macular degeneration is one of the most common eye disorders encountered in the elderly and the leading cause of blindness. The disease is a progressive one, leading in time to deterioration of the macula (central retina).

This disease is different from glaucoma where the optic nerve is damaged. Macular degeneration affects the ability to read and do many everyday tasks. It usually starts developing in people after the age of 60 and can affect one or both eyes.

Macular degeneration comes in two types. The dry one, which deteriorates the macula (the tissue located inside the eyeball) and the wet type, which is characterized by blood vessels which start growing under the retina, leaking fluid and blood. The most commonly seen form is the dry macular degeneration.

What did the study show? 
The authors of this study wanted to know the impact of an antioxidant-rich diet on vision and did this experiment in mice prone to retinal damage in old age. The mice were separated into three groups: one group had a diet rich in grapes, another group had a diet with lutein, and another group had a normal diet.

Results showed that the grape diet exerted an extraordinary protection against oxidative damage to the retina. More specifically, the grapes have prevented blindness. The lutein diet was effective too, but the grapes have had much greater protective effects.

The present study showed that grapes could prevent vision loss by protecting photoreceptors in mice with retinal degeneration and reduce the accumulation of lipofuscin, a substance that can cause dysfunction of the retinal pigment epithelium cells.

Researcher Silvia Finnemann, from the Department of Biological Sciences at Fordham University in New York, says that the protective effects of grapes are felt in old age even if the fruits were consumed only in young age. Dr. Finnemann claims that retinal aging and age-related vision loss is a consequence of oxidative stress damage accumulated over time. Therefore, a diet rich in natural antioxidants in the long term can have a direct impact on the health and function of the retina.

To prevent macular degeneration, you can also try nutritional supplements, that contain Zeanthin and Lutein (maintain cellular integrity in the macula), Pycnogenol (an antioxidant helpful for vision and eye problems), grape seed extract (maintains vascular integrity) and Zinc (for vision integrity).

Macular degeneration is irreversible, and the treatments that are now available are not very efficient. Therefore adopt a healthy diet, rich in foods that promote eye and vision health.