New research findings suggest that consistent grape consumption may help eye health by protecting the retina from deterioration.
Specifically, a grape-enriched diet protects retinal structure and function.
The retina has cells which respond to light, also known as photoreceptors which includes two types – rods and cones.
Retinal degenerative diseases impact more than five million people in the U.S. The maladies can result in blindness caused by photoreceptor cell death.
The study was conducted by a research team with the University of Miami, Bascom Palmer Eye Institute. The research investigated whether a diet supplemented with grapes could protect the photoreceptors in mice which have retinal degeneration.
Mice were fed a grape-supplemented diet corresponding to three servings of grapes per day for people, or one of two control diets.
The research findings were shared at the recent Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology (ARVO) conference in Orlando, Fla.
The research results suggest that retinal function was significantly protected in the mice consuming the grape-enriched diet. In fact, the grape-consuming rodent group had three times more rod and cone photoreceptor responses compared with those on the control diets.
The grape-fed mice also had thicker retinas.
Grape consumption also protected retinal function in a form of macular degeneration. In addition, grape-fed mice had reduced levels of inflammatory proteins and higher amounts of protective proteins in the retinas.
“The grape-enriched diet provided substantial protection of retinal function which is very exciting,” said Abigail Hackam, the study’s lead investigator.
“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,” Hackam said.
ARVO is the largest eye and vision research organization in the world representing members from more than 70 countries.