Purpose: The growing numbers of diabetes cases in the developed world are followed by increasing numbers of people diagnosed with diabetic complications. Diabetic microangiopathies in the eye lead to the development of retinopathy involving gradual loss of vision. Previous studies with Pycnogenol showed effectiveness for stopping progression of preproliferative stages of retinopathy. The aim of our study was to show protective effects of Pycnogenol in early stages of retinopathy, characterized by mild to moderate retinal edema in the absence of hemorrhages or hard exudates in the macula center.
Methods: Following treatment with Pycnogenol (24 patients) for 3 months, retinal edema score (dilated ophthalmology) and retinal thickness (high resolution ultrasound) showed statistically significant improvement as compared to the placebo group (22 patients), which showed negligible changes to baseline. Laser Doppler flow velocity measurements at the central retinal artery showed a statistically significant increase from 34 to 44 cm/s in the Pycnogenol group as compared to marginal effects in the control group.
Results: The major positive observation of this study is the visual improvement, which was subjectively perceived by 18 out of 24 patients in the Pycnogenol group. Testing of visual acuity using the Snellen chart showed a significant improvement from baseline 14/20 to 17/20 already, after 2 months treatment, whereas no change was found in the control group.
Conclusions: Pycnogenol taken at this early stage of retinopathy may enhance retinal blood circulation accompanied by regression of edema, which favorably improves vision of patients.