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The main connection between lutein and bilberry is that both substances help to improve vision and even help to prevent macular degeneration. Both are often found together in supplements meant to help improve the function of the eyes. They each work in different ways to help eyesight stay clear and to keep the retina healthy, and when used in combination with one another, the effects are multiplied.
Causes of macular degeneration are not entirely understood, but there are theories which point toward the formation of free radicals which gradually destroy tissues in the retina. Lutein and bilberry work in various ways to prevent this cycle and prevent vision loss. The carotenoid lutein is found in various yellow and orange vegetables, such as carrots, and is one of the naturally occurring substances of the human eye. By taking lutein in supplement form, it helps replace that which is lost due to free radical damage.
Bilberry also naturally helps to prevent vision loss because it contains very powerful levels of antioxidants. Antioxidants are substances which search out and destroy free radicals, making them unable to cause damage to the body. They also help enhance overall immune function, resulting in further free radical reduction, thanks to the increase in white blood cell function. Lutein and bilberry used together offer a double dose of protection by both replacing natural lutein in the eye and preventing free radical damage.
Lutein and bilberry extract supplements are available, sometimes combined with other substances which also help improve eye function. Aside from helping to prevent macular degeneration and other conditions of the eye, supplements also provide support for overall nutrition and immune function. Both are generally safe for most people and have few if any side effects. Consumers are still advised to discuss the use of lutein and bilberry extract with a doctor or pharmacist to avoid any potential adverse reactions with other supplements or medications being taken.
Other sources of lutein include vegetables like carrots, squash, kale, spinach, and egg yolks. Bilberry can also be eaten as raw berries, in jam or preserves, or by extracting the juice and drinking it. A combination of these foods and taking a daily supplement may help to provide added protection against eye damage, although yearly exams are still recommended to catch early vision problems before they become noticeable. Avoiding substances which cause free radicals to occur, such as cigarette smoking, is also beneficial to the eyes.