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 maintaining the wellbeing in myopic subjects, acting on retinal sensibility.1, 2
More recently, some investigators reported that the administration of Mirtoselect® could help to preserve the visual function in eyesight due to overuse of the eyes, delaying subjective symptoms such as vision with sparks, dimming of the eyesight, ocular fatigue in computer operators, office workers and students, as shown in a cross-over, double-blind, placebo controlled study on 20 subjects who took 250mg of bilberry extract for 28 days (Fig 1).3
Virno M, Pecori Giraldi J, Auriemma L. Boll Ocul. 1986; 65:789-95
Gandolfo E. Boll. Ocul. 69: 57, 1990
Kajimoto O. Scientific Report Collection 1998; 19:143-150.
In addition, in a study 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 maintaining eye health in school children where axial myopia and sudden failure of eysight arose due to overuse of their eyes may be expected.4
In an recent multicenter study on 88 subjects5 the change of eye conditions after 1 year of administration of Mirtoselect® has been evaluated. The administration of 3 capsules of Vaccinium myrtillus extract (170 mg/capsule) maintained healthy vision levels due to a beneficial effect on contrast sensitivity, while visual acuity and macular health were preserved.
Kajimoto S, Sasaki K, Takahashi T. J New Rem & Clin 2000;49:72-79. [Article in Japanese]
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 subjects6, resulted in statistically significant changes of the best-corrected visual acuity (measured as logMAR) and of the Visual Field (Humphrey Visual Field test) compared to the initial conditions. The best-corrected visual acuity change was statistically significant also compared with the control (97 subjects) and Ginkgo biloba (103 subjects) group, while the visual field change could not reach statistical significance when compared to the Gingko biloba 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 efficacy7.
- Virno M, Pecori Giraldi J, Auriemma L. Boll Ocul. 1986; 65:789-95
- Gandolfo E. Boll. Ocul. 69: 57, 1990
- Kajimoto O. Scientific Report Collection 1998; 19:143-150.
- Kajimoto S, Sasaki K, Takahashi T. J New Rem & Clin 2000;49:72-79. [Article in Japanese]
- Kim ES, et al. J Korean Ophthalmol Soc. 2008 Oct;49(10):1629-1633.
- Shim, S.H., et al. 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