Eyes that strain to see far or in the dark may benefit from bilberry extract!

The active ingredient found in bilberries called anthocyanins, may improve the night vision and symptoms of eye discomfort in people with short-sighted vision.

This study was published in the year 2005 by The British Journal of Nutrition and was conducted by Dr. Lee and colleagues from the department of Ophthalmology at Yonsei University College of Medicine in Korea.

Humans have been eating bilberry fruit for centuries not only for its taste but for its many health benefits. During World War II, Royal British air force pilots reported that their night vision acuity improved by eating bilberry jam before a mission. Anthocyanins are the active components found in bilberries which contribute to eye health by improving the blood circulation of the eyes. They are also potent antioxidants that defend the eyes against the damaging effects of light.

Myopia is the clinical title given to a person who has better near vision than far vision (near-sightedness) because they have eyeballs which are longer or a lens which is stronger than normal. Wearing corrective lenses can resolve the eye strain felt when trying to focus on far distant objects however, myopia also results in a loss of contrast sensitivity. The eyes rely on contrast sensitivity for night-time vision and this cannot be corrected with eyewear. Researches hypothesised that anthocyanin supplementation should relieve myopic eye discomfort by improving nocturnal acuity.

Researchers recruited sixty patients aged between 18 and 65 with mild-to-moderate myopia, poor nocturnal vision and eye strain symptoms. Each patient was randomly assigned to receive either a tablet containing more than 85% anthocyanosides or a placebo tablet containing no anthocyanosides for 4 weeks, twice daily.

Patients completed questionnaires on the severity and frequency of their eye symptoms to assess whether there was any improvement. Contrast sensitivity tests using computer based technology assessed if nocturnal vision improved.

After four weeks of supplementation, results from the symptom questionnaires showed that patients receiving the anthocyanoside tablets reported better improvements than patients not receiving the treatment.

Nocturnal vision improved significantly in the anthocyanoside group compared to the non-treated group that had no changes.

The results from this study indicate that bilberry extract containing high doses of anthocyanosides may improve night-time vision and eye discomfort symptoms in people with myopia.


Lee, J., et al., Purified high-dose anthocyanoside oligomer administration improves nocturnal vision and clinical symptoms in myopia subjects. Br J Nutr, 2005. 93(6): p. 895-9.


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