During the Second World War, the empirical observation that ingestion of bilberry jam (made from Vaccinium myrtillus berries) improved the sight of RAF pilots on night flights led to an interest in their ophthalmologic properties. Subsequently, the effect of anthocyanins in improving vision has been evaluated by instrumental techniques, such as computerised perimetry, suggesting that the standardized bilberry extract containing 36% anthocyanins may play an important role in improving the retinal sensibility in myopic patients (1-2).
More recently, some investigators reported that the administration of Mirtoselect® could help to recover reduced visual function in eyesight due to overuse of the eyes. An improvement in subjective symptoms such as vision with sparks, dimming of the eyesight, ocular fatigue in computer operators, office workers and students has been shown in a cross-over, double-blind, place controlled study on 20 patients who took 250mg of bilberry extract for 28 days. (Fig 1)(3).
In addition, in a trail on 63 school children with pseudomyopia (8 weeks treatment with 150mg/day of Mirtoselect®), 30% of the cases showed a eyesight recovery, suggesting that a long-term intake of bilberry extract may be useful in preventing an advancement to axial myopia and an exacerbation of eyesight in pseudomyopia school children in whom sudden failure of eysight arose due to overuse of their eyes.(4).
In an recent multicenter study on 88 patients(5) the change of clinical manifestations after 1 year of administration of Mirtoselect® to patients with nonproliferative diabetic retinopathy (NPDR) associated macular edema has been evaluated. The administration of 3 capsules of Vaccinium myrtillus extract (170 mg/capsule) improved vision due to a beneficial effect on contrast sensitivity, while visual acuity and macular edema were maintained without aggravation.
Additionally prolonged administration (6 to 53 months) of a product containing a low dosage of Mirtoselect® (120mg/day divided in two capsules of 60mg) in 132 patients (6), resulted in an amelioration of the best-corrected visual acuity (measured as logMAR) and of the Visual Field (Humphrey Visual Field test) compared to the initial conditions. Furthermore the amelioration of the best-corrected visual acuity was statistical significant also compared the control (97 patients) and Ginkgo biloba (103 patients) traded group, while the visual field increase could not reach statistical significance amelioration when compared to the Gingko biloba treated group.
In a recent registry study evaluating the effects of Mirtoselect® in different types of eye challenges 140 subjects spontaneously decided to join one of the following groups: standard management (SM) only (n=38); SM associated with 160 mg/day of Mirtoselect® supplementation (n=47); SM associated with the same amount of generic bilberry extract supplementation (n=55).
After 6 months, inter-group comparison revealed a statistical advantage in all tested parameters for Mirtoselect® supplementation groups. No side effects or tolerability concerns were reported, suggesting that the natural and peculiar standardization of Mirtoselect® containing the full range of the non-anthocyanin components, is critical for its the efficacy.(7)
- Virno M, Pecori Giraldi J, Auriemma L. Antocianosidi di mirtillo e permeabilità dei vasi del corpo ciliare. Boll Ocul. 1986; 65:789-95
- Gandolfo E. Boll. Ocul. 69: 57, 1990
- Kajimoto O, “Clinical Evaluation of the Oral Administration of Vaccinium Myrtillus Anthocyanosides (VMA) in Mental Fatigue and Asthenopia”. Scientific Report Collection 1998; 19:143-150.
- Kajimoto S, Sasaki K, Takahashi T. Recovery effect of VMA intake on visual acuity of pseudomyopia in primary school students. J New Rem & Clin 2000;49:72-79. [Article in Japanese]
- Kim ES, Yu SY, Kwon SJ, Kwon OW, Kim SY, Kim TW, Ahn JK, Oum BS, Lew YJ, Lee JE, Chung H, Kwak HW.”Clinical Evaluation of Patients with Nonproliferative Diabetic Retinopathy Following Medication of Anthocyanoside: Multicenter Study”. J Korean Ophthalmol Soc. 2008 Oct;49(10):1629-1633.
- Shim, S.H., et al., Ginkgo biloba extract and bilberry anthocyanins improve visual function in patients with normal tension glaucoma. J Med Food, 2012. 15(9): p. 818-23.
- Gizzi C. et al., Bilberry extracts are not created equal: the role of non anthocyanin fraction. Discovering the “dark side of the force” in a preliminary study. Eur Rev Med Pharmacol Sci. 2016 Jun;20(11):2418-24