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Eating Grapes Can Prevent Blindness

Update Date: May 29, 2014 07:32 PM EDT

Eating grapes may boost eye health, according to a new study.

Researchers found that having a grape-enriched diet protects and maintains the retina from deterioration.

Researchers explain that the eye's retina is made up of photoreceptors, cells that respond to light. There are only two types of photoreceptors: rods and cones. Unfortunately more than five million Americans are affected by retinal degenerative diseases, which can cause blindness due to photoreceptor cell death in aging.

Researchers from the University of Miami, Bascom Palmer Eye Institute wanted to see if diet affected photoreceptors in mice with retinal degeneration. Mice in the study were either fed a grape-supplemented diet that was equivalent to three servings of grapes per day for humans or one of two control diets.

They found that the mice that consumed grape-enriched diets were had significantly better retinal function that those on the control diet. The study also revealed that mice in the experimental group had triple rod and cone photoreceptor responses compared with animals in the control group.

Experimental mice also had thicker retinas, which had lower levels of inflammatory proteins and higher amounts of protective proteins, compared to mice in the control group.

"The grape-enriched diet provided substantial protection of retinal function which is very exciting," lead author Dr. Abigail Hackam said in a news release. "And it appears that grapes may work in multiple ways to promote eye health from signaling changes at the cellular level to directly countering oxidative stress."

The California Table Grape Commission commissioned the study. 

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