Natural antioxidant Pycnogenol, a European pine bark extract, has been included in the new Twinlab product, Dia-Balance for Eye Health, designed for diabetics and pre-diabetics.
The product was created to promote eye health and help patients suffering from diabetic retinopathy, a diabetes-induced eye disease that ultimately leads to blindness, according to North American distributor Natural Health Sciences.
According to the American Diabetes Association, diabetic retinopathy affects over 5 million Americans, most of whom are considered legally blind, said Frank Schönlau, director of scientific communications for Horphag Research and Natural Health Science.
"Pycnogenol's effectiveness in alleviating diabetic retinopathy and its overall eye health benefits have been researched through five clinical studies involving over 1000 patients. This new research is shedding light on Pycnogenol's emerging function and role for reducing bleeding in the eye, which can lead to blindness," he said.
Diabetic retinopathy occurs because elevated glucose levels in the blood react within the capillaries of the retina, resulting in swollen and brittle walls. This subsequently leads to blood leaking into the retina, which limits oxygen and nutrients from reaching the retina, and lowers the sensitivity of the eye to light, causing gradual vision loss.
Diabetic retinopathy develops without symptoms and pain and very rarely are there any signs of this debilitating disease until it has progressed to a point where a patient notices his vision is getting worse, with the result being irreversible damage.
"Research has found diabetic retinopathy patients who took Pycnogenol, significantly reduced the leakage of blood from capillaries, keeping the retina healthy and improving their vision," said Dr Schönlau. "Pycnogenol binds to certain proteins, such as those exposed in damaged areas of capillaries and seals them to suppress further outflow of blood. Another study demonstrated that Pycnogenol improves integrity and function of the retina."
The Dia-Balance line consists of five different products, each targeting a separate diabetes-related condition. The eye health formula contains 40mg of Pycnogenol and 6mg lutein.
Pycnogenol is included in other key eye health formulas including Dr Andrew Weil's Vision Support Formula and Novartis' Picno 30, a product containing Pycnogenol in combination with Vitamin E designed to help treat diabetic retinopathy.
The importance of eye health, and the role of natural remedies, has increased significantly over recent years.