Night Vision (Impaired)
• Black Currant,
The ability to see in poor light depends on the presence of a substance in the eye called rhodopsin, or visual purple. It is destroyed by bright light but rapidly regenerates in the dark. However, for some people, the adaptation to darkness or the recovery from glare takes an unusually long time. There is no medical treatment for this condition.
Principal Proposed Natural Treatments for Impaird Night Vision
The herb bilberry, a close relative of the American blueberry, is the most commonly mentioned natural treatment for impaired night vision. This use dates back to World War II, when pilots in Britain's Royal Air Force reported that a good dose of bilberry jam just before a mission improved their night vision, often dramatically. After the war, medical researchers investigated the constituents of bilberry and found a group of active chemicals called anthocyanosides. These naturally occurring antioxidants
However, neither anecdote nor basic scientific evidence of this type can prove a treatment effective. Only
For example, a double-blind crossover trial of 15 individuals found no short- or long-term improvements in night vision attributable to bilberry.
Thus, at present, bilberry cannot be recommended as a treatment for improving night vision. For more information, including dosage and safety issues, see the full
Other Proposed Natural Treatments for Impaired Night Vision
Evidence from a small double-blind placebo-controlled study suggests that anthocyanosides (see Bilberry discussion above) from black currant might have some benefit for night vision. 16
There is no question that deficiencies of
11. Cluzel C, Bastide P, Wegman R, et al. Enzymatic activities of retina and anthocyanoside extracts of Vaccinium myrtillus (lactate dehydrogenase, alpha-hydroxybutyrate dehydrogenase, 6-phosphogluconate dehydrogenase, glucose-6-phosphate dehydrogenase, alpha-glycerophosphate dehydrogenase, 5-nucleotidase, phosphoglucose isomerase [translated from French]. Biochem Pharmacol. 1970;19:2295–2302.
16. Nakaishi H, Matsumoto H, Tominaga S, et al. Effects of black current anthocyanoside intake on dark adaptation and VDT work-induced transient refractive alteration in healthy humans. Altern Med Rev . 2000;5:553–562.
Last reviewed April 2009 by EBSCO CAM Review Board
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