New research shows that an extract of pine bark may benefit people in the early stages of diabetic retinopathy. A leading cause of blindness among people with diabetes, diabetic retinopathy occurs when leaky blood vessels damage the retina (a light-sensitive layer of tissue at the back of the inner eye).
For the study, researchers treated 46 diabetic patients with daily doses of the pine bark extract (called Pycnogenol) or a placebo tablet for three months. All patients had early-stage retinopathy, which is marked by swelling resulting from capillaries leaking fluid into the retina.
Study results showed that 18 of the 24 participants treated Pycnogenol had improvement in their vision, while no such improvements were observed in the placebo group. What's more, all 22 patients in the placebo group maintained the same swelling they'd had at the start of the study.
The study's authors suggest that pine bark extract may help stimulate circulation in the retina and inhibit swelling, which in turn may improve vision.