Assistant Professor Dingbo "Daniel" Lin says he and his team are trying to determine if wolfberries can improve damage to the retina. His findings, so far, suggest the fruit can lower the oxidative stress that the eye undergoes as a result of type-2 diabetes.
"I would not say that wolfberries are a medicine, but they can be used as a dietary supplement to traditional treatments to improve vision," Lin said. "Wolfberries have high antioxidant activity and are very beneficial to protect against oxidative stress caused by environmental stimuli and genetic mutations."
Wolfberries are bright orange-red, oblong-shaped and grown in China, where the fruit is known to help rebalance homeostasis, boost the immune system, nourish the liver and kidneys and improve vision.
In their quest to understand the mechanisms of the wolfberry's effects on vision, the scientists found wolfberries have high levels of zeaxanthin, lutein, polysaccharides and polyphenolics -- all of which have been shown to improve vision and help in the prevention of age-related macular degeneration and diabetic retinopathy.
The researchers said they are continuing to study wolfberries and their health benefits.
The research was presented at the 2009 Experimental Biology conference and the 2009 American Society of Cell Biology Conference.