Supplementation with bilberry, astaxanthin and lutein relieves eye fatigue among Japanese adults - RCT

By Guan Yu Lim

- Last updated on GMT

RCT finds supplementation with bilberry, astaxanthin and lutein relieves eye fatigue among Japanese adults ©Getty Images
RCT finds supplementation with bilberry, astaxanthin and lutein relieves eye fatigue among Japanese adults ©Getty Images

Related tags Bilberry BGG Astaxanthin Lutein Antioxidant Japan eye fatigue

Supplementation of bilberry, astaxanthin and lutein daily for six weeks was found to improve eye focus in Japanese adults experiencing eye fatigue.

This is according to a randomised control trial conducted by researchers in Japan, which was partially funded by BGG Japan.

BGG Japan supplies natural ingredients ranging from bilberry extracts (branded: MyrtiPro), astaxanthin (branded Astazine) to saw palmetto.

This study examined a supplement containing anthocyanin, astaxanthin, and lutein on eye function in healthy Japanese adults with eye fatigue after operating visual display terminals (VDT).

Prolonged usage of VDTs such PCs and smartphones are known to cause eye dryness, fatigue and other symptoms including headache and stiff shoulders.

Dr Yanmei Li, chief scientific officer at BGG Global commented: “Work at visual display terminals is a very common cause of visual fatigue. It is estimated that over 60% of visual display terminal users experience eye symptoms while more than 20% experience other issues like musculoskeletal problems,

Given the millions of people using visual display terminals, these conditions affect a substantial percentage of the population. We are very excited about the eye health benefits by this synergistic formula that is adding clinical evidence to support such a common discomfort.​”   

According to researchers, bilberry, astaxanthin, and lutein have been studied individually on its ability to improve eye function, however, “to the best of our knowledge, no previous studies have verified the effects of a combination of these three substances on the improvement of eye function​,” they wrote in the Journal of Clinical Biochemistry and Nutrition​.

Study design

The randomised, double-blind, placebo-controlled study recruited 44 healthy Japanese adults (20 to 59 years) who were experiencing eye fatigue during VDT operation.

Participants were divided into the treatment or placebo group.

The treatment group was tasked to consume a supplement consisting 100mg of anthocyanin (bilberry extract powder from BGG), 3mg of astaxanthin (Haematococcus pluvialis​-derived pigment from BGG), and 5mg of lutein (marigold obtained from Omnica Co).

Subjects were asked to consume two capsules daily after breakfast for six weeks, making the total anthocyanin consumption at 200mg, 6mg of astaxanthin and 10mg of lutein daily.

The placebo group was given a capsule containing indigestible dextrin instead.

Data was collected at baseline and at week six. The VDT operation consisting of playing a video game on a handheld game console for 60 minutes.

The primary outcome was the change of pupillary response in both eyes, at baseline and week six between pre and post-VDT operation.

Secondary outcomes were visual acuity, and subjective symptoms of eye fatigue such as tiredness, dry eyes, blurred vision which subjects rated on a questionnaire.

Accommodative function

For the treatment group, the change of pupillary response was an average of 5.8% in both eyes at week six, between pre- and post-VDT operation.

The placebo group saw an average of -4.4% change, with the changes between both groups found to be significant (p=0.036).

When comparing the pupillary response of the dominant eye, the treatment group also saw larger change in pupillary response than the placebo group, with a significant change (p=0.023).

According to other reports, the dominant eye is always mildly hypertonic compared to the non-dominant eye, and quickly responds to the far-to-near accommodation, hence was more  likely to get accommodative malfunction caused by VDT operation.

From this current study, this result showed an improvement in the percentage of pupillary response in the treatment group after use of VDT.

Researchers think the anthocyanins derived from bilberries have a vasorelaxing effect, and astaxanthin could improve blood circulation, which may contribute to the relaxation of the accommodative function related muscles, such as ciliary muscles, sphincter pupillae muscles, and dilator pupillae muscles and relieve tension in these muscles.

Visual acuity

The treatment group also observed improved visual acuity, which is the ability to see fine print and details.

Visual acuity of the dominant eye post-VDT operation at week six in the treatment group was significantly higher than those in the placebo group (p ​= 0.011).

Researchers said: “The improvement of visual acuity was thought to be brought about by the fact that the intake of anthocyanin and lutein contained in the test food promoted the regeneration of rhodopsin, the reduction of ROS caused by blue light through the improvement of macular antioxidant capacity, and the improvement of contrast sensitivity through the reduction of chromatic aberration​.”

In terms of subjective symptoms, the treatment group showed significant improvement in the scores, especially for eye focus and reading find print better, compared with the placebo group.

In all, this study showed that a six-week consumption of the supplement could improve accommodative and visual functions caused by visual display terminal operation.

However, there were no observation on the impact on the macula which future studies can explore.


Source: Journal of Clinical Biochemistry and Nutrition

Effects of anthocyanin, astaxanthin, and lutein on eye functions: a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study​”

Authors: Yuki Kizawa, et al.

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