While all diabetes complications can be devastating, the risk of blindness seems to be the universally most terrifying concern. Fortunately, you can reduce your risk of diabetic retinopathy by protecting those precious capillaries with flavonoids.
Flavonoids are compounds found in thousands of plant-based foods and have been shown to be powerful antioxidants. Because of this antioxidant activity, flavonoids fight free radical damage to cells and tissues, particularly those in the capillaries, which are often damaged in people with diabetes. It is this damage that leads to complications like diabetic neuropathy (damage to the nerves) and retinopathy.
Fortunately, as flavonoids fight free radicals, they strengthen the capillaries, helping to improve blood flow to all tissues. In addition to supporting eye health, this action also protects the kidneys, brain, and lower extremities.
Of all the flavonoids found in nature, those containing anthocyanosides (dark purple-blue pigments found primarily in berries) are particularly beneficial for people with diabetes. And of all the anthocyanosides, the most widely used and studied for diabetic retinopathy is bilberry.
Bilberry was used by Royal Air Force pilots during World War II to improve nighttime vision and adjustment to darkness and glare. On the research front, studies show that the anthocyanosides in bilberry improve circulation, strengthen collagen, and decrease inflammation in eye tissues. It has also been found to be useful in the cataracts and macular degeneration.