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Study Says Resveratrol May Boost Eye Health

The vascular benefits of resveratrol—a compound in red wine, blueberries and peanuts—may extend to reducing the risk of blindness for diabetics and seniors, says a new study.

This information was published in the American Journal of Pathology: Resveratrol could reverse the abnormal formation of blood vessels in the retina of mice subjected to a laser treatment.

The researchers note that the findings could have potential benefits for both age-related macular degeneration (AMD) and diabetic retinopathy.

AMD is a degenerative retinal disease that causes central vision loss and leaves only peripheral vision, and is the leading cause of legal blindness for people over 55 years of age in the Western world, according to AMD Alliance International.

According to the National Institutes of Health, between 40 and 45% of Americans diagnosed with diabetes already have some stage of diabetic retinopathy, a major cause of blindness in people with diabetes.

A great deal of research has identified resveratrol as an anti-aging compound,  a powerful polyphenol and anti-fungal chemical.

Original research on resveratrol was performed by Sinclair. He found resveratrol could activate a gene called sirtuin1 (Sirt1—the yeast equivalent was Sir2), which is also activated during calorie restriction in various species and is related to longer life spans. 

For the current study, researchers exposed mouse retinas to a laser treatment that initiated blood vessel formation, or angiogenesis. When resveratrol was fed to the mice, however, the researchers observed that angiogenesis was inhibited and that abnormal blood vessels were eliminated. The effects were identified as occurring via the eEF2 pathway.

American Journal of Pathology 177:481-492, 2010

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