Bilberries have been well studied for their beneficial effects on human health due to the high Anthocyanin content and these are also what give bilberries their rich dark color. Supplements containing bilberry extract can be used to help improve vision and protect against macular degeneration.
As far back as the 1940s, RAF fighter pilots in Briton noticed they had improved vision when they ate jam containing bilberries. It’s debatable whether or not this effect was real or not, but bilberries do have powerful antioxidant properties and animal and human studies suggest that they can protect against serious eye diseases like macular degeneration and cataracts. 
One study showed that bilberry effect completely eliminated impairments to the lenses and retina in animals when they were given bilberry, whereas 70% of the control group developed eye problems.
That’s pretty amazing!
Below are some of the best bilberry eye supplements, but first I think you should know a little more about the benefits of bilberries!
Here are three high-quality bilberry supplements for eye health. (scroll down for details).
- Natural Nutra Ultimate Eye Supplement – Premium eye supplement containing the highest amount of bilberry out of the three. Contains 500 mg of bilberry and blueberry extract.
- Gaia Herbs Vision Enhancement Supplement – Contains less bilberry (50 mg), but makes up with it with other clinically-proven ingredients to support eye health. Also ethnically sourced ingredients and vegan-friendly.
- Total Eye Complex Supplement – A good budget eye supplement with 160 mg of bilberry (4:1 extract) and three other ingredients which protect vision.
Also, be sure to check out my article on how much bilberry you need daily for other health conditions!
How Bilberry protects against eye diseases
Due to reports on the protective effect of bilberries on eye health, a study was done to look at the effect of blue light on retinal cells in vitro. They discovered that the berry extracts used in the study were able to reduce the generation of reactive oxygen species (ROS) and inhibit a master pro-inflammatory regular called NF-κB.
Blue light is what is what causes eye diseases like age-related macular degeneration and bilberry appears to be effective in preventing free radical damage, reducing inflammation and also preventing the death of retinal cells. 
This gives us an insight into how bilberries can protect our vision.
In another study on rabbits, anthocyanins once against showed they are able to prevent visible-light induced eye damage by boost antioxidant mechanisms, reducing inflammation, preventing lipid peroxidation and reducing retinal cell death. 
And finally, in a study published in 2015, researchers showed that dietary bilberry supplements were effective at delaying the onset of diabetic retinopathy by preventing vascular dysfunction. 
Bilberry in combination with Gingko has also been found to improve visual function in patients with normal tension Glaucoma.
Needless to say, the research is very exciting and more work needs to be done to establish the benefits of bilberry extracts in humans.
The evidence so far is quite convincing that bilberries do indeed protect vision and improve eye health. So supplementing them could be a good idea if you want to maintain your vision as you age or even slow down the progression of eye conditions you currently have.
Listen to what Dr. James Meschino has to say about Bilberry supplements for eye health
Anthocyanins also have many other benefits
- Regulates blood sugar – High glucose levels is a risk factor for degenerative eye diseases. Bilberries are able to help lower blood sugar and reduce the sugar spike after consuming a high-sugar meal.
- Improves blood flow – Anthocyanins have beneficial effects on the blood vessels and will help deliver nutrients and oxygen to the eyes. Bilberries have also been shown to strengthen capillary walls.
- Reduced cholesterol – High cholesterol is associated with a 2.5 fold higher risk of retinal vein occlusion. Bilberries may help prevent this problem because of their cholesterol-reducing effect.
- Reduced blood pressure – High blood pressure is another risk factor for retinal vein occlusion and increases the risk by up to 3.5 times! Some studies show that bilberries are able to lower blood pressure significantly.
When picking a supplement, you should try to aim for one which has all of these qualities, as well as their ability to accumulate in the eye and provide antioxidant support.
Bilberry Supplements for Eye Health
Below are three supplements which contain a mix of bilberry, blueberries, lutein and other carotenoids which are beneficial in improving vision and protecting against cataracts, macular degeneration, and other eye conditions. Often eye support supplement will come with several other nutrients which provide these benefits.
#1. Natural Nutra Ultimate Eye Formula – Macular Degeneration and Night Vision Supplement
It contains 500 mg of bilberry and blueberry concentrations, as well as 10 mg of lutein. Lutein is a carotenoid which accumulates in the retina and is able to protect against damage from UV rays due to its powerful antioxidant properties.
Although the cost of the supplement is high compared to supplements which only contain bilberry, the synergistic effect blueberry, bilberry and lutein is more powerful. And of course, what price we put on our vision and ability to see?
And not only that, the added ingredients have many other benefits from improving brain function and memory in reducing the signs of skin aging and protecting against UV rays.
The supplement has some good reviews, so I recommend you check them out!
Positives: The supplement is a premium product and contains natural and organic ingredients. It’s suitable for vegetarians and vegans, and those who are gluten-sensitive.
It’s also been manufactured in the USA by an FDA inspected facility, so the quality of the product is high and you are guaranteed purity. Which is always a good thing when you’re putting these supplements into your system!
Negatives: It’s quite expensive and might be out of the price range for many people. But fortunately, they do have cheaper options available where you get fewer capsules per bottle.
#2. Gaia Herbs Vision Enhancement Supplement for Vision Support
Their eye formula contains 50 mg of bilberry, 20 mg of grapeseed, 10 mg of lutein and 2 mg of astaxanthin.
Although it doesn’t provide nearly as much bilberry extract compared to more premium eye formula supplement, the synergism between these ingredients still makes it a powerful combination.
Gaia is certified organic, so everything you’re getting is the highest quality and also has been tested for purity in a laboratory to ensure you’re getting the best ingredients.
If you’re looking for a supplement with moderate amounts of anthocyanins and carotenoids to support eye health, then this would be a good choice.
Positives: Gaia supplements are ethically sourced and suitable for vegans. The supplement has very few ingredients (ascorbic acid, vegetable glycerin, vegetable cellulose) aside from its main active ingredients. It also doesn’t contain any common ingredients which may cause allergies.
Negatives: It only contains 50 mg of bilberry, which is significantly lower than many other bilberry supplements available. Given that the supplement is inexpensive, this isn’t a strong negative, but it would have been better if it provided more. It makes up for it by providing a good amount of other compounds which have proven eye health benefits.
This one has quite a few good reviews, so I recommend you check them out!
#3. Total Eye Complex with Bilberry, Lutein, and Zeaxanthin
It contains 20 mg of lutein, 160 mg of bilberry, 100 mg of citrus bioflavonoids, and 10 mg of Zeaxanthin.
The product was formulated to support vision by reducing eye strain and fatigue as well as maintaining vision and protecting against damage caused by free radicals which can lead to macular degeneration and other eye conditions.
Compared to the previous eye supplement, it does contain less bilberry but makes up for it with its addition of Zeaxanthin and lutein, both of which have shown to be clinically beneficial for eye health.
Other benefits of the supplement may include improving blood vessel integrity by strengthening capillary walls. As mentioned earlier, this is one mechanism by which bilberry can protect against eye damage.
Positives: The supplement is relatively inexpensive and provides 4 scientifically backed ingredients to support eye health. It’s also free from artificial preservatives, coloring, sugar, and common allergens which may cause issues for some people.
Negatives: If you’re already eating a plant-based diet and are consuming a lot of lutein from foods such as spinach and kale, consuming 20 mg of lutein on top of that might be too much.
I would not recommend this supplement if you have a diet which is heavily plant-based and contains a lot of these two vegetables in particular. Alternatively, you could consume just one capsule per day of this supplement and take a pure bilberry extract supplement with it.
Ingredients which make these eye supplements even better
When you’re trying to find a good eye supplement to take, you’ll find that they usually come with several other well-known ingredients for supporting eye health.
The ingredients that you’ll usually see included are the following:
- Citrus Bioflavonoids
In a paper published in JAMA, researchers followed up subjects who took part in a prospective cohort study which followed them over two decades to look at the influence of dietary intakes of carotenoids like lutein and zeaxanthin on age-related macular degeneration.
They found that both men and women had a risk reduction of developing AMD by 40%! This was a significant result and seems to indicate that carotenoids are useful in preventing ocular diseases. 
In another study which was an open-label, randomized study involving 145 patients, researchers examined whether lutein, zeaxanthin, and astaxanthin could improve vision in patients with age-related maculopathy. After two years of supplementation, patients taking the supplement had significant improvements in visual acuity! 81.4 ± 7.2 compared to 76.8 ±8.9 for the untreated group. 
Are there any side effects?
Studies have shown that bilberry is safe to take long term. Studies using a combination of pycnogenol and bilberry have been used for 6 months and shown to be safe.
The carotenoids and compounds found in these supplements are considered safe in the recommended doses. However, carotenoids may cause various non-harmful effects at the normal dose.
High doses of carotenoids can cause the skin to change color, but this is harmless and shouldn’t be any concern. One way to tell if you have a problem is to check the whites of your eyes. Carotenoids should not cause the white part of your eye to become yellow.
When we see something visibly coming towards our eyes, we all put up our hands and protect them. But many people don’t think about how they can protect the on-going damage from the sun, UV rays, and the effects of aging from the inside.
According to research, Bilberry supplements can provide extra protection against common eye conditions and help keep your vision sharp!