Bilberry supplement improves severe dry eye

“We hypothesized that dietary supplementation with bilberry and fish oil would alleviate the signs and symptoms of severe dry eye in both young and older adult age groups compared to age-matched control groups,” ​the researchers wrote. “To our knowledge, this is the first study to evaluate the qualitative as well as quantitative effects of a combined oral bilberry extract and fish oil supplementation has on severe dry eyes.”

The study, published in the journal Frontiers in Nutrition, ​was supported by the Hong Kong Jockey Club Charities Trust. 

Bilberry and eye health

Native to Europe and a cousin to the North American blueberry, the anthocyanin-rich bilberry (Vaccinium myrtillus​ L.) is associated with improved blood flow to the eyes, reducing inflammation and protecting the optic nerve and retina from damage. 

Clinical studies have shown that the bilberry can help to relieve eye fatigue and improve object focus, contrast sensitivity and tear fluid quality. While limited, research has also explored bilberry’s powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory anthocyanin action as remedy for conditions including macular degeneration, glaucoma and cataracts.  

For this experiment, the researchers used a bilberry extract combined with a low dose of DHA omega-3, also known for its anti-inflammatory properties in benefit of dry eye relief. Natural health product supplier Squina International Group Ltd. provided the supplements.

Study details

The study recruited 24 young (under 30) and middle-aged (over 48) subjects with severe dry eye symptoms and randomly assigned them to either a test or control group.  The test group supplemented with a total of 600 mg bilberry extract (150 mg of anthocyanins) and 240 mg docosahexaenoic acid (DHA)-refined fish oil once daily for three months before breakfast, while the control group received no intervention.

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