Health practitioners have expressed concern at the growing number of people presenting with what has been labelled “eye-strain or fatigue” associated with digital screen use. Computer use for study, work and entertainment along with constant exposure to mobiles – texting, social media etc, have led to eye fatigue.

Studies suggest that constant exposure to the high energy blue light emitted by electronic device screens can lead to damaged retinal cells. This can trigger vision problems like age-related Macular Degeneration. Most commonly, Macular Degeneration is when there is a sudden or gradual loss of central visual clarity in elderly persons and a distortion of visual images.

A 2015 study by a Japanese Orthopaedic Surgery Clinic, of 281 participants, examined the effect of a dietary supplement containing bilberry extract on eye fatigue induced by acute video display use. The finding showed that bilberry supplementation improved the condition of eye fatigue.

In the same year, a study published in the Journal of Nutrition, Health and Aging, suggested that bilberry may help to reduce eye fatigue brought on by video display use. This study was focused on office workers aged 20 to 40 who frequently used computers, and who were given either a bilberry extract or a placebo daily for eight weeks. At the study’s end, some of the symptoms of eye fatigue (such as eye pain, heaviness, discomfort, and foreign body sensation) were reduced to a greater extent in those taking the bilberry extract.

Bilberries are rich in anthocyanins which work by neutralising free radicals that can cause various diseases. Anthocyanins improve circulation in the tiny blood vessels that deliver oxygen and nutrient-rich blood to individual cells and they also protect cells from damage.

A published 1989 Italian study found that elderly people with early stage cataracts who were given a combination of bilberry extract and Vitamin E, saw cataract progression slow by 97%.

A Korean study using glaucoma patients showed that patients who were given anthocyanins from bilberry experienced improvement and had fewer “weak spots” in their field of vision. The lead researcher noted that the bilberry anthocyanins appeared to help eyes by improving circulation, which in turn helped control dangerously high fluid pressure that in glaucoma can damage the optic nerve.

Other studies have shown that the beneficial effects of taking bilberry supplementation may extend to involve conditions associated with aging. Bilberry extract is proving to be an excellent general purpose supplement with little if any negative side-effects.

When considering bilberry to support eye health, it makes good sense to consider the synergistic benefits of a combination including nutrients and compounds specifically aimed at eye health. Things like –

  • Zeaxanthin and Lutein. Two carotenoids that are potent antioxidants located in the retina of the eye. They protect the eyes by absorbing the high energy blue light
  • Vitamin C and Vitamin E
  • Zinc and Copper

There is anecdotal evidence that this combination can be more beneficial in preventing and helping to manage macular degeneration than just bilberry alone.

The nutrients you need to protect your eyes should generally be available through good nutrition.  Make sure you have enough leafy greens, omegas and foods packed with antioxidants in your diet.  Look for foods with bright colours – that’s a dead giveaway they have high levels of antioxidants.  Look out for the blues, purples and reds – these are best for your eyes as they are high in anthocyanin.

Of course, if your diet is lacking in fresh produce or you want to boost your eye health, consider taking a bilberry supplement.

Herbs of Gold Macu-Guard with Bilberry 10,000 is one of our “Hero Products” and is on special this month.