Grapes, eyes
Including more grapes into the daily diet can protect the eye against retinal degeneration, a new study says. Credit: Yuliya Libkina/FlickrYuliya Libkina/Flickr

Including more grapes into the daily diet can protect the eye against retinal degeneration, a new study says.

Retinal degenerative disease is an eye disorder that causes permanent damages to the light sensitive layer of tissue at the back of the inner eye that plays a major role in the vision process. Macular degeneration that causes vision loss in the centre of retina or macula, retinitis pigmentosa, usher disease and stargardt disease are some of the retinal degenerative diseases. Some of the symptoms of retinal degeneration are damaged vision, loss of vision, night blindness, retinal detachment, sensitivity to light and tunnel vision.

In the new study, the research team from the Bascom Palmer Eye Institute of the University of Miami in the US mainly focused on the protective effect of grapes on photoreceptors or the cells in the retina that help it respond to the light. Retina includes two types of photoreceptors-rods and cones.

During the study, a group of mice received either a grape – enriched diet or a control diet. At the end of the experiments, mice receiving the grape – enriched diet showed an enhanced eye health than the other group. Grape consumption was associated with a three-fold increase in rod and cone photoreceptor responses and thicker retina.

Eating more grapes brings down inflammatory protein levels in retina, at the same time increases the number of protective proteins in the retina, researchers said while explaining their study.

"The grape-enriched diet provided substantial protection of retinal function which is very exciting," lead investigator of the study, Dr Abigail Hackam, said in a news release. "And it appears that grapes may work in multiple ways to promote eye health from signaling changes at the cellular level to directly countering oxidative stress."

Findings of the study were presented at the Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology conference in Orlando, Florida, last week.

Research shows that eating the right food can help fight these eye disorders and prevent blindness. The Age-Related Eye Disease Study (AREDS), conducted by the National Eye Institute followed nearly 3,600 participants with age-related macular degeneration (AMD) and found that a daily intake of antioxidants and zinc lowered risk of developing these disease by 25 percent. Researchers recommended people at risk of the eye disease a formulation consisting vitamin C (500 milligrams), vitamin E (400 International Units), beta –carotene (15 milligrams), zinc oxide (80 milligrams) and cupric oxide (2 milligrams).

Following are some foods that help enhance vision by protecting against macular degeneration and some other eye disorders:

  • Vegetables high in antioxidant vitamin C like broccoli, bell pepper and Brussels sprouts
  • Carrot that is rich in beta-carotene
  • Almonds rich in vitamin E
  • Oily fish like salmon, tuna that is rich in omega-3 fatty acids
  • Leafy vegetables, particularly spinach that contains lutein and anti-oxidants
  • Eggs rich in lutein and zinc
  • Berries rich in vitamin C
  • Turkey full of zinc