Bilberry extract benefit, supplement herb for vision, eye health, side effects, dosage information
Can these pills be taken with lutein or other nutrients for optimal vision and eyesight enhancement?
October 12 2016 by
Ray Sahelian, M.D.

Bilberry (botanical name Vaccinium myrtillus), also known as the Whortleberry and Blaeberry, is a small shrub found on heaths where it grows to about 60 centimeters tall. You will find many eye formulas that contain it, including Eyesight Rx, a formula that improves close and distant vision within a few days of use. Bilberry herb has more than a dozen anthocyanosides for eye health and is a popular ingredient.

Bilberry and eyesight, vision health
There are claims that ingestion of this plant, especially as a supplement, helps vision but the effects are not as potent as lutein or zeaxanthin, alpha lipoic acid, goji berry and ginkgo biloba. If you are interested in improving color perception and the ability to read easier and see distant objects better, Eyesight Rx works quite well for this purpose.

Bilberry dosage, how much to take
It is not clear at this time what the ideal dosage would be. For the time being, 10 to 100 mg of an extract comprised of 25% anthocyanosides should suffice. This pill need only be taken a few days a week.
For vision enhancement people prefer Eyesight Rx which contains bilberry extract.

Eyesight Rx with bilberry extract and additional eye nutrients and herbs
For improved vision within days, including day and night vision
Bilberry Extract, also referred to as blueberry, is a potent extract yielding key bioflavonoids and antioxidants called anthocyanosides, anthocyanins, ellagitannins, and proanthocyanidins. A controlled extraction process guarantees at least 25% anthocyanosides.


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Citrus bioflavonoids (eriocitrin, hesperidin, flavonols, flavones, flavonoids, naringenin, and quercetin)
Mixed Carotenoids (astaxanthin, beta carotene, cryptoxanthin, lutein,
Lycopene, Zeaxanthin)
Bilberry extract (Vaccinium myrtillus)
Ginkgo biloba
Mucuna pruriens extract
Lycium berry extract - also known as Goji Berry

Night vision
Anthocyanosides of Vaccinium myrtillus for night vision--a systematic review of placebo-controlled trials.
Surv Ophthalmol. 2004.
We have systematically reviewed placebo-controlled trials of bilberry -extracted anthocyanosides for evidence of positive effects on night vision. Searches of computerized databases and citations in retrieved articles identified 30 trials with outcome measures relevant to vision in reduced light. Of these, 12 were placebo-controlled. Healthy subjects with normal or above average eyesight were tested in 11 of the 12 trials. The hypothesis that bilberry anthocyanosides improves normal night vision is not supported by evidence from rigorous clinical studies. There is a complete absence of rigorous research into the effects of the bilberry extract on subjects suffering impaired night vision due to pathological eye conditions. Evidence from methodologically weaker trials and auxiliary evidence from animal studies, trials of synthetic anthocyanosides, and a recent randomized controlled trial of Ribes nigrum (black currant) anthocyanosides may warrant further trials of bilberry anthocyanosides in subjects with impaired night vision.

The effect of bilberry extract nutritional supplementation on night visual acuity and contrast sensitivity.
Altern Med Rev. 2000. Naval Aerospace Medical Research Laboratory, NAS Pensacola, Florida, USA.
The purpose of this study was to investigate the effect of bilberry on night visual acuity and night contrast sensitivity. The subjects were young males with good vision; eight received placebo and seven received 160 mg of bilberry extract (25-percent anthocyanosides). Subjects ingested one active or placebo capsule three times daily for 21 days. After the three-week treatment period, a one-month washout period was employed to allow any effect of bilberry on night vision to dissipate. In the second three-week treatment period, the eight subjects who first received placebo were given active capsules, and the seven who first received active capsules were given placebo. There was no difference in night visual acuity during any of the measurement periods when examining the average night visual acuity or the last night visual acuity measurement during active and placebo treatments. The current study casts doubt on the proposition that bilberry supplementation, in the forms currently available and in the doses recommended, is an effective treatment for the improvement of night vision in this population.
    Comments: This study was done on young men with good eyesight and may not reflect results obtained when studied in middle aged or older adults who have poorer vision. Also, some supplements work better in lower dosages or when not used daily.

Anthocyanidins that are found in this berry
Anthocyanosides are the pharmacologically active constituents of bilberries. They consist of a backbone known as anthocyanidin which is bound to one of three sugars: arabinose, glucose, or galactose. The fresh fruit contains an anthocyanoside concentration of 0.1 to 0.25 percent. A concentrated bilberry extract however yields 25% anthocyanidin content, which corresponds to about 38% anthocyanosides. Bilberries also have phenolic compounds and flavonols. Anthocyanidins include cyanidin, delphinidin, peonidin, petunidin and malvidin. The amount of resveratrol is a tenth of that found in grapes. Bilberries are similar to blueberries but they are not actually the same genus.

Benefit for various medical and health conditions
The benefit of bilberry rests mostly on its ability to provide substances that are beneficial for eye health. Bilberry may benefit those who have macular degeneration or are predisposed to a cataract. Phenolic compounds in the plant are of benefit as antioxidants.

Bilberry is sold as a plain extract and in various concentrations such as a 4 to 1 extract.  You will most often find bilberry added to vision improving herbal formulas that also contain lutein and zeaxanthin.

Side effects, safety
No major adverse effects have been reported in medical journals with the use of bilberry supplements as 2011.


Thirty-one volunteers drank bilberry juice while another thirty-one participants were given water for 4 weeks. The group drinking bilberry juice had decreases in plasma concentrations of C-reactive protein (rises when there is inflammation), interleukin (IL)-6, IL-15, and monokine induced by INF-gamma. Bilberry juice modulates plasma concentration of NF-kappaB related inflammatory markers in subjects at increased risk of CVD. Eur J Nutr. Sep 2010.

Inhibition of protein and lipid oxidation in liposomes by berry phenolics.
J Agric Food Chem. 2004.
The antioxidant activity of berry phenolics such as anthocyanins, ellagitannins, and proanthocyanidins from raspberry (Rubus idaeus), bilberry (Vaccinium myrtillus), lingonberry (Vaccinium vitis-idaea), and black currant (Ribes nigrum) was investigated. The antioxidant protection toward lipid oxidation was best provided by lingonberry and bilberry phenolics followed by black currant and raspberry phenolics. In bilberries and black currants, anthocyanins contributed the most to the antioxidant effect. In raspberries, ellagitannins were responsible for the antioxidant activity. Berries are rich in monomeric and polymeric phenolic compounds providing protection toward both lipid and protein oxidation.

Extracts from bilberry may prevent the build up of plaques in the arteries, preventing hardening of the blood vessels and boosting overall heart health. Researchers led by Aurelie Mauray from France’s Institut National de la Research Agronomique used apolipoprotein-E-deficient mice, putting the animals at an increased risk of heart disease. Apolipoprotein-E (Apo-E) is essential for the normal breakdown of triglyceride-rich lipoprotein constituents. “The yeast-fermented bilberries extract exerts more effective antiatherogenic activity in vivo than the anthocyanin-rich bilberry extract, suggesting that fermentation generates some new compounds with improved health-promoting properties as compared to the anthocyaninrich standardized extract,” report the researchers in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry. Aurelle Mauray divided the mice into three groups. All groups were fed the standard control diet, but two groups received one of two bilberry extracts: One rich in anthocyanins extracted from untreated bilberries, and a second one extracted from yeast-fermented bilberries at a level of 0.02 per cent. Such an intake corresponds to about 30 mg of anthocyanidins per day in humans, said the researchers. At the end of 16 weeks of study, significant inhibition of the development of plaques associated with atherosclerosis was observed in both bilberry groups.

Cancer studies
Induction of apoptosis in cancer cells by Bilberry and the anthocyanins.
J Agric Food Chem. 2003.
Among ethanol extracts of 10 edible berries, bilberry extract was found to be the most effective at inhibiting the growth of HL60 human leukemia cells and HCT116 human colon carcinoma cells in vitro. Our results indicate that the bilberry extract and the anthocyanins, bearing delphinidin or malvidin as the aglycon, inhibit the growth of HL60 cells through the induction of apoptosis. Only pure delphinidin and the glycoside isolated from the bilberry extract, but not malvidin and the glycoside, inhibited the growth of HCT116 cells.

Helicobacter pylori inhibition
Inhibition of Helicobacter pylori in vitro by various berry extracts, with enhanced susceptibility to clarithromycin.
Mol Cell Biochem. 2004.
H. pylori American type culturewas grown, cell suspensions were made in PBS and diluted 10-fold. One hundred microL of the suspension was then incubated for 18 h with extracts of raspberry, strawberry, cranberry, elderberry, blueberry, bilberry, and OptiBerry, a blend of the six berries. All berry extracts significantly inhibited H. pylori, compared with controls, and also increased susceptibility of H. pylori to clarithromycin, with OptiBerry demonstrating maximal effects.

Macular degeneration research
Dietary supplementation with bilberry extract prevents macular degeneration and cataracts in senesce-accelerated OXYS rats.
Adv Gerontol. 2005.
Cataracts and macular degeneration remain the major cause of blindness and acuity of vision deterioration in the elderly. Both pathology have been attributed to damage by free radicals, there has been a great deal of interest in antioxidants. Bilberry's flavonoids are known as potent antioxidants, scavenging free radicals and used for multiple age-related ocular disorders. Senescence-accelerated rats with early senile cataract and macular degeneration were used. From 1.5 to 3 month rats were given control diets or those supplemented with 25% bilberry extract (BE, 20 mg on kg of body weight including 4.5 mg of antocianidin) or vitamin E (40 mg/kg) for comparison. The testing at 3 month showed that more then 70% of control rats had cataract and macular degeneration while the supplementation of bilberry extract completely prevented impairments in the lenses and retina. The vitamin E had no significant effects but both antioxidants decreased lipid peroxides in the retina and serum of rats. The results suggest that long-term supplementation with bilberry extract is effective in prevention of macular degeneration and cataract.

Effect of lyophilised Vaccinium berries on memory, anxiety and locomotion in adult rats.
Pharmacol Res. 2005.
The present experiments were performed to study the possible effects of prolonged administration of lyophilised Vaccinium berries (blueberry, bilberry) on cognitive performance using step-down inhibitory avoidance, open field, elevated plus-maze, and radial maze tasks. During this experiment the rats consumed approximately 3.2mgkg(-1)day (oral), of the anthocyanins. The lyophilised bilberries were administered for 30 days before first training. The present study showed that a lyophilised bilberry significantly enhanced short-term memory, but not long-term memory in the inhibitory avoidance task, and induced an increase in the number of crossings in the first exposure to the open field. However, treated rats did not present any improvement of memory retention in open field habituation. Additionally, prolonged treatment with lyophilised bilberries did not have any significant effects in the elevated plus-maze task. Another interesting finding was that lyophilised bilberries improved working memory in the radial maze, with significant differences observed during sessions 1-2 and 4, but did not alter reference memory in this task. These results suggest that lyophilised bilberries may be beneficial in the prevention of memory deficits, one of the symptoms related to alzheimers disease, and corroborate previous findings showing that flavonoids present effects in several learning paradigms.

Oral Surg Oral Med Oral Pathol Oral Radiol. 2013. Protective effect of bilberry extract as a pretreatment on induced oral mucositis in hamsters. This study evaluated the effect of standardized bilberry extract containing anthocyanosides on chemotherapy-induced oral mucositis in hamsters. Frequent administration of bilberry extract had a protective effect on oral mucosal damage induced by 5-fluorouracil in an animal model.

Retinopathy prevention, eye benefit
Int J Food Sci Nutr. 2015. Vaccinium myrtillus extract prevents or delays the onset of diabetes--induced blood-retinal barrier breakdown. The aim of this study was to determine whether bilberries (Vaccinium myrtillus) help to prevent diabetes-induced retinal vascular dysfunction in vivo in rats. The results showed bilberry extract may prevent or delay the onset of early diabetic retinopathy.

Historical note
Some of you history buffs may recall that during World War II, British Royal Air Force (RAF) pilots mentioned that their night vision was clearer whenever they ate bilberry preserves before starting out on their evening bombing raids.

Natrol, Bilberry Extract, 40 mg, 60 Capsules
Buy Bilberry Extract supplement pill

Supplement Facts
Serving Size: 1 Capsule
  Amount Per Serving % Daily Value
Bilberry Extract (Vaccinium myrtillus) (fruit) 40 mg *
25% Anthocyanosides 10 mg *
*Daily Value not established.

Suggested Use: 1 bilberry capsule a few times a week, or as recommended by your health care professional.
Supplement Facts:
Bilberry Fruit Standardized Extract
   (Vaccinium myrtillus) Yielding 10 mg anthocyanosides

Other products on sale online

Solgar, Bilberry Ginkgo Eyebright Complex Plus Lutein, 60 Veggie Caps