Bilberries have been well studied for their beneficial effects on human health due to the high anthocyanin content. These compounds are also what give bilberries their rich dark color. Supplements containing bilberry extract have been shown to be beneficial in protecting against a number of eye conditions including 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 they do have powerful antioxidant properties and animal, as well as human studies suggest that they can protect against serious eye diseases .
One study showed that bilberry completely eliminated impairments to the lenses and retina in animals, whereas 70% of the control group developed eye problems. That a pretty impressive result!
It’s no wonder that bilberries are considered one of the top natural health supplements for eye conditions.
If you’re in a rush, I’ve listed 4 high-quality bilberry supplements for you. If you want to read my review of each supplement, please continue reading below!
If you would like to learn more about the healthful properties of bilberry, read my article on how much you need to take daily.
Bilberry and other natural ingredients work together to support eye health
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% if they consumed these compounds!
This was a significant result and seems to indicate that carotenoids are useful in preventing ocular diseases .
In another study which was randomized and involved 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 .
Now let’s take a look at 4 supplements which contain these ingredients and more!
4 Bilberry supplements which can help support and protect eyesight
Below are three supplements which contain a mix of bilberry, blueberries, lutein, and many other ingredients which are beneficial for improving vision and protecting against cataracts, macular degeneration, and other eye conditions.
#1. Natural Nutra Ultimate Eye Formula – Macular Degeneration and Night Vision Supplement
This supplement contains a blend of proven compounds which have been shown in studies to improve eye health and protect against serious eye conditions like macular degeneration.
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 of blueberry, bilberry and lutein is a powerful combination.
The supplement has some great reviews, so I recommend you check them out.
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.
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
Gaia eye supplement provides four highly potent ingredients to support your vision and protect against vision loss. The brand has been around since 1987 providing ethically sourced supplements.
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 great option.
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.
Gaia supplements are ethically sourced and suitable for vegans.
The supplement has very few ingredients aside from its main active ingredients.
It doesn’t contain any common ingredients which may cause allergies.
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.
#3. Total Eye Complex with Bilberry, Lutein, and Zeaxanthin
This is an eye supplement from VitaVita! It contains four ingredients, all of which have some evidence behind them for their beneficial effect on eye health.
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 your 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.
The supplement is relatively inexpensive and provides 4 scientifically backed ingredients.
It’s free from artificial preservatives, coloring, sugar, and common allergens which may cause issues for some people.
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.
However, you could consume just one capsule per day of this supplement and take a pure bilberry extract supplement with it.
#4. Physicians Eye Health – Areds Eye 2 Vitamins
Areds 2 is an eye supplement that has been formulated and is approved by doctors. It contains ingredients which have been clinically proven to help improve eye health and protect against eye strain, eye floaters, and more serious eye conditions.
The main ingredients include bilberry, zeaxanthin, lutein, grape seed, black pepper, copper, zinc, vitamin B12, folate, vitamin E and vitamin C.
In published studies, these ingredients have been shown to improve the following:
- Reduce eye strain and fatigue.
- Increase visual performance and processing speed.
- Increase macular pigment density.
- Promote overall eye function.
The supplement contains a patented ingredient called Lutemax 2020 which contains a 5:1 ratio of lutein and zeaxanthin.
The supplement is well-designed and contains all the main vitamins and minerals required for healthy eye function. It also has a great mix of proven ingredients to protect against vision loss.
It’s also relatively inexpensive for what you get and has a lot of great reviews!
It contains less bilberry than many other supplements.
More on how Bilberry protects against eye diseases
Let’s look a little deeper on bilberries and how it can protect eyesight
Due to reports on the protective effect of bilberries, there was a study conducted to look at the effect of blue light on retinal cells in vitro.
It was discovered that berry extracts 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 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 again showed that they are able to prevent visible-light induced eye damage by boosting 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.
Listen to what Dr. James Meschino has to say about Bilberry supplements for improving eye health
Anthocyanins have many other benefits which also directly or indirectly protect your eyes
- Regulates blood sugar – High glucose levels are 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.
Are there any side effects?
Bilberry is safe to take long term.
A combination of pycnogenol and bilberry have also been used for 6 months in a study 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.
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 that occurs every day from the sun, environment, our diet, and our devices.
Now studies have consistently shown that Bilberries may offer you a little extra protection so you can maintain healthy vision for longer.
Reviewed and updated 12 July 2019