Grapes found to help prevent age-related blindness

Grapes found to help prevent age-related blindness even better than lutein

Lutein has long been hailed for its ability to help protect against, and even reverse, the devastating effects of age-related macular degeneration. But a new study published in the journal Free Radical Biology and Medicine suggests that grapes may work even better than lutein at mitigating age-related blindness due to their high levels of antioxidants.

For her study, Dr. Silvia Finnemann, PhD, from Fordham University’s Department of Biological Sciences evaluated three groups of rats fed varying diets. She gave the first group of rats a diet enriched with added grapes, the second a diet enriched with lutein, and the third a normal diet. At the conclusion of the study, the grape group experienced significant protection against oxidative damage, even more so than the lutein group.

“The protective effect of the grapes in this study was remarkable, offering a benefit for vision at old age even if grapes were consumed only at young age,” said Dr. Finnemann. “A lifelong diet enriched in natural antioxidants, such as those in grapes, appears to be directly beneficial for RPE (retinal pigment epithelium cells) and retinal health and function.”

Age-related macular degeneration is a condition that afflicts millions of elderly people worldwide every single year, and is said to be the number one cause of blindness in this age category. When the photoreceptors in the retina begin to lose their function either because of metabolic waste buildup or oxidative damage, vision loss begins to set in and run its course — and this is a gradual process that happens over time.

But grapes, with their high levels of flavonoids like quercetin and resveratrol, are able to prevent this buildup of metabolic waste, also known as lipofuscin, in RPE, as well as protect metabolic pathways against oxidative damage. So consuming grapes, preferably beginning at an early age, is a great way to help maintain vision and ensure that the macula, which is the central portion of the retina, does not deteriorate and cause blindness.

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