Bilberry has shown to help improve night vision, relieve visual fatigue and protect the eye against glaucoma, cataracts and macular degeneration, as well as other circulatory-related conditions.
The active constituents of the bilberry fruit have been identified as anthocyanidin glycosides, commonly called anthocyanosides. (For analytical purposes, the anthocyanosides content usually is expressed in
terms of anthocyanidin.
An anthocyanidin content of 25% is equal to 37% anthocyanosides). These anthocyanosides are bioflavonoids responsible for the red to blue colors in many berries and flowers. By
using GLC-MS and HPLC technique, it has become possible to produce highly standardized extracts.
Anthocyanosides have the ability to crosslink collagen fibers, thus strengthening the collagen matrix and decreasing the permeability of capillary walls, thereby reducing and preventing capillary leakage.
For this reason bilberry can be effective in protecting the eyes against glaucoma, cataracts and macular degeneration, which are caused by the breakdown of collagen in the capillary walls and other tissues in the eyes, and by “leaky” blood vessels in the macular region of the eye.
Bilberry is the European version of the blueberry, known scientifically as Vaccinium myrtillus. It has a long tradition as a herbal remedy and a nutritious food.
The most notable discovery leading to the contemporary use of bilberry for the eyes occurred during World War II, when the British RAF pilots found that using bilberry jam before their night missions improved their dark adaptation and their visual acuity In the last 30 years, researchers have found bilberry extract to be an impressive microcirculation enhancer.
It helps strengthen the capillaries, and it decreases the permeability of blood vessels. It also acts as a powerful anti-oxidant, improving the flexibility of cell membranes and inhibiting damage to the eyes caused by free radicals.
Bilberry furthermore aids the eye’s adaptation to darkness by accelerating the regeneration of visual purple. The very first clinical study for the use of bilberry in ophthalmology was conducted in 1964 (Jayle and Aubert).
It showed a marked improvement in the retinal adaptation curve in healthy subjects. Several studies in France involving air traffic controllers, helicopter pilots and night drivers also demonstrated a clear improvement in night vision.
Other double-blind clinical studies show that anthocyanosides significantly improve visual disorders by reducing myodesopsy, photopsy and visual fatigue. Bilberry has become one of the most common herbal pharmaceuticals in Europe, due to its efficacy and