Study results indicate that grape consumption could help prevent the start of age-related macular degeneration. These protective effects are believed to be due to the grapes’ antioxidant actions.
Age-related macular degeneration is the main cause of blindness in the elderly. It’s a progressive eye condition, resulting in the degeneration of the retina’s center, known as the macula. Aging of the retina is linked to increased oxidative damage levels, and oxidative stress is believed to play a crucial part in the development of age-related macular degeneration.
The effect of an antioxidant-rich diet on vision was compared making use of mice prone to having damage of the retina in old age in a very similar way as humans do. The mice were fed either a normal diet, a diet enriched with grapes, or a diet with lutein added.
The mice eating the diet enriched with grapes were protected against retinal oxidative damage and blindness was prevented. Grapes were found to offer much more protection even though lutein was also effective.
The study results indicate that age-related loss of vision is a result of cumulative, oxidative damage, and a lifelong diet rich in natural antioxidants, like those in grapes, seems to be of direct benefit for retinal health and function.
There’s a known decline in the of (RPE) retinal pigment epithelium cell function in age-related macular degeneration. These are the photoreceptor support cells in the retina that are critical for the process of light into sight conversion. The RPE dysfunction is caused by:
- A build-up of metabolic waste products in the RPE called lipofuscin.
- An RPE oxidation burden that compromises important metabolic pathways.
The ensuing dysfunction, distress and sometimes death of the RPE cells results in age related macular degeneration.
This study revealed that blindness was prevented in mice by the addition of grapes to the diet by means of lipofuscin build-up reduction and preventing RPE oxidative damage, and so ensuring optimal functioning of this crucial area of the retina.