Diabetic retinopathy is a potentially blinding condition that affects almost 5% of diabetics. Peer reviewed scientific research has found that the following nutritional supplements may help people who are concerned about diabetic retinopathy and diabetes in general.
Chromium: 73% of type I and II diabetics who took chromium supplements reduced their requirement for insulin or oral hypoglycemic agents. Taking chromium and niacin together reduced fasting blood sugar levels and improved glucose tolerance.
Bilberry: 79% of 37 patients with visible diabetic retinal abnormalities improved after taking 160 mg of bilberry extract twice daily, compared to 0% of the placebo control group, and 86% of those with abnormalities of angiography findings showed moderate to considerable improvement.
Ginkgo Biloba: According to the following double blind study, gingko biloba can help improve diabetic retinopathy by improving the flow of blood to the brain and extremities.
Pine Bark Extract: A 2010 study suggests that pine bark extract (containing procyanidins) may be helpful to diabetics who have early diabetic retinopathy through improved retinal blood flow and lowering swelling edema.
About 40-50% of Americans who have been diagnosed with diabetes already have some stage of diabetic retinopathy, according to NIH.
Reference: Steigerwalt R, et al. Pycnogenol® improves microcirculation, retinal edema, and visual acuity in early diabetic retinopathy. J Ocular Pharmacol Therap 25:537-40, 2009.