A new study carried out by researchers at the University of Miami Bascom Palmer Eye Institute suggests grape consumption may play a key role in protecting the retina from deterioration.
The findings were recently presented at the Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology (AVRO) in Florida, and showed that a grape-enriched diet had a protective effect on the retinal structure and function.
The retina is the light-sensitive part of the eye on which the visual world is created, and contains cells called photoreceptors.
Retinal degenerative diseases affect over five million people in the U.S., and often lead to blindness as the photoreceptor cells die.
The study used mice to determine whether a grape-enriched diet could protect the photoreceptors in mice which had retinal degeneration.
The animals were either fed a grape-supplemented diet corresponding to three servings per day for humans, or one of two control diets.
The mice which were fed the grape-enriched diet were shown to have significantly protected retinal function, three-fold higher photoreceptor responses, and thicker retinas compared with the other mice.
Further analysis also demonstrated the grape diet’s effects on reducing inflammatory proteins and increasing protective proteins in the retina.
The research team was led by Dr. Abigail Hackam who said in a press release she was very pleased with the findings.
“The grape-enriched diet provided substantial protection of retinal function which is very exciting,” Hackam said.
“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.”
AVRO is the largest eye and vision research organization in the world, comprising of over 12,000 researchers from the 80 countries.