An antioxidant plant extract from the bark of the French maritime pine tree can treat diabetic retinopathy in the early stages, says a new study.
Pycnogenol has been shown to improve microcirculation, retinal edema and visual acuity in patients experiencing early signs of diabetic retinopathy.
Diabetic retinopathy, damage to the retina caused by leaky blood vessels, is a major cause of blindness in people with diabetes and is one of the most feared diabetic complications.
"Previous research has shown that Pycnogenol may reduce the progressing advanced stages of diabetic retinopathy," said Dr. Robert Steigerwalt, a lead author of the study.
The expert added: "While previous studies focused on the latent stages of diabetic retinopathy, the aim of this new study was to show the protective effects of Pycnogenol in the early stages of this growing diabetic complication."
The randomized controlled study, conducted by G D'Annunzio University in Italy, investigated a total of 46 diabetic patients over a period of three months.
The Pycnogenol treatment group consisted of 24 patients, with 22 patients placed in a placebo treatment group.
Dr. Steigerwalt said: "Our study suggests that Pycnogenol taken in the early stages of retinopathy may enhance retinal blood circulation accompanied by a regression of edema, which favourably improves vision of patients."
The study has been published in the Journal of Ocular Pharmacology and Therapeutics.