How to protect eyesight and retinal health? Certainly a diet that includes foods rich in the carotenoids lutein and zeaxanthin, such as parsley, spinach, kale, egg yolk, has been shown to be helpful. However, the long-term intake of these antioxidant substances has not been shown to avoid some types of advanced retinal degeneration, such as wet maculopathy, characterized by the formation of new blood vessels. In the article we are talking about today, scientists bring to our attention the beneficial and sight-saving properties of a plant, prunella. Prunella, in fact, is capable of protecting the eyesight and the retina, even from the damage of blue light, through different mechanisms and helps to prevent even the most advanced forms of retinal degeneration (Kim et al, Free Radic Biol Med, 2020).
Retinal degeneration and maculopathies
Over the years, substances called A2E are deposited in the external layer of the retina, that is the pigment epithelium. When these substances accumulate, and therefore over the years, or are hit by blue light, such as that of LED lights or the light emitted by screens of television screens and pc, they oxidize causing oxidative stress and inflammation in the retina with the formation of new blood vessels. In the long run, this condition can lead to retinal diseases, such as maculopathy, and progressive loss of vision.
The properties of prunella
Hence the importance of researching substances and treatments that can stop or at least slow down this process. Prunella is a plant rich in antioxidant substances, such as rosmarinic and ellagic acid, but also quercetin, rutin and triterpenes. All of these substances work in synergy to protect the retina.
The study to evaluate the sight saving properties of prunella
To investigate the extent to which prunella acts for the health of the retina, the researchers carried out a series of experiments, in vitro and in vivo, putting in contact epithelial cells of the retina with extracts of prunella and then exposing them to blue light. What emerged was that prunella extracts were able to protect retinal cells through several mechanisms. First of all, prunella inhibits the accumulation of A2E in the cells of the retinal epithelium. Not only that, prunella is also able to reduce oxidative stress and ultimately inhibits inflammation in the retina, all conditions that would otherwise have paved the way for the development of degeneration and maculopathies. In conclusion, the researchers were able to observe how prunella is able to inhibit the onset and subsequent development of maculopathy.