Red Wine May Help You See Better (if You Don't Drink Too Much)

Compound found in wine, grapes shown to impact age-related macular degeneration, diabetic retinopathy

(RxWiki News) Resveratrol may help halt uncontrolled blood vessel growth in the eye, pointing the way to better therapies for conditions such as diabetic retinopathy and age-related macular degeneration (AMD).

The chemical compound resveratrol, found in red wine, grapes, blueberries and other plants, may help prevent angiogenesis (out-of-control blood vessel growth), which also plays a role in certain cancers and atherosclerosis. Resveratrol was found to inhibit angiogenesis in mice retinas. Researchers also discovered the pathway through which resveratrol blocks blood-vessel growth.

Given resveratrol's reputed anti-aging effects, researchers wanted to look at the compound's effect on age-related eye conditions, such as AMD, the leading cause of blindness in adults over 50.

Resveratrol appeared to make abnormal blood vessels disappear in mice models through the eukaryotic elongation factor-2 kinase (eEF2) regulated pathway. The novel pathway could become a new target for therapies, said Washington University retina specialist and lead study author Rajendra S. Apte, MD, PhD.

“Because of the high level of metabolic activity that occurs in the retina (the light sensitive tissue which lines the back wall of the eye), novel treatments such as this which utilize previously unappreciated pathways to target disease may hold promise for the millions of patients who suffer from age related eye disease," said Dr. Chris Quinn, President of OMNI Eye Services.

Smoking, race, family history and obesity have all been shown to play a role in developing AMD, the leading cause of blindness in adults over age 50.

Diabetic retinopathy is a progressive eye disease and complication of diabetes caused by damaged blood vessels in the retina of the eye. The condition can lead to retinal detachment, glaucoma, macular edema (swelling of the macula at the back of the eye) and cataracts.

Review Date: 
January 24, 2011