said Glenn Yiu, a co-author of the study and an associate professor in the Department of Ophthalmology and Vision Sciences.
The cause of AMD is complex and multifactorial. It involves a mix of genetic risks, age-associated changes, and environmental factors like smoking, diet, and sun exposure.
Early stages of AMD do not have symptoms, but physicians can detect AMD and other eye problems during a regular comprehensive eye exam.
The current treatment for AMD uses special dietary supplements, called AREDS, that contain vitamins C, E, zinc, copper and lutein, and zeaxanthin. There is no known therapy for the early stages of AMD.
In the new study, researchers found that 13 healthy participants aged 45 to 65 who consumed 28 grams (about one ounce, or a handful) of goji berries five times a week for 90 days had increased density of protective pigments in their eyes.
In contrast, 14 study participants who consumed a commercial supplement for eye health over the same period did not show an increase.
The eye pigments that increased in the group that ate goji berries are lutein and zeaxanthin. These pigments filter out harmful blue light and provide antioxidant protection. Both help to protect the eyes during aging.
They also found that even in normal healthy eyes, these optical pigments can be increased with a small daily serving of goji berries. The higher the lutein and zeaxanthin in the retina, the more protection you will have.
Goji berries are the fruit of Lycium chinense and Lycium barbarum, two species of shrubby bushes found in northwest China.
Dried berries are a common ingredient in Chinese soups and are popular as herbal tea They are similar to raisins and eaten as a snack. In Chinese medicine, goji berries are said to have “eye brightening” qualities.
Goji berries contain high quantities of lutein and zeaxanthin, which are known to reduce the risk of eye diseases related to AMD. The form of zeaxanthin in goji berries is readily absorbed in the digestive system so the body can use it.
This new study shows goji berries, which are a natural food source, can improve protective eye pigments of healthy participants beyond taking high-dose nutritional supplements.
The next step in the research will be to examine goji berries in patients with early-stage AMD. Although the results are promising, the researchers note that the study size was small, and more research would be needed.
How to Prevent Age-Related Vision Loss?
- Have routine eye examination to identify early signs of vision loss.
- Manage other medical conditions.
- Avoid smoking.
- Maintain a healthy weight and exercise regularly.
- Eat a diet rich in fruits and vegetables.
- Include more omega-3 fatty acid rich food items such as fish, walnuts in diet.
- What the science says about goji berries