Article

Natural therapies for ocular disorders, part two: cataracts and glaucoma.

Thorne Research, Inc., P.O. Box 25, Dover, ID 83825,USA.
Alternative medicine review: a journal of clinical therapeutic (Impact Factor: 4.86). 05/2001; 6(2):141-66.
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT Pathophysiological mechanisms of cataract formation include deficient glutathione levels contributing to a faulty antioxidant defense system within the lens of the eye. Nutrients to increase glutathione levels and activity include lipoic acid, vitamins E and C, and selenium. Cataract patients also tend to be deficient in vitamin A and the carotenes, lutein and zeaxanthin. The B vitamin riboflavin appears to play an essential role as a precursor to flavin adenine dinucleotide (FAD), a co-factor for glutathione reductase activity. Other nutrients and botanicals, which may benefit cataract patients or help prevent cataracts, include pantethine, folic acid, melatonin, and bilberry. Diabetic cataracts are caused by an elevation of polyols within the lens of the eye catalyzed by the enzyme aldose reductase. Flavonoids, particularly quercetin and its derivatives, are potent inhibitors of aldose reductase. Glaucoma is characterized by increased intraocular pressure (IOP) in some but not all cases. Some patients with glaucoma have normal IOP but poor circulation, resulting in damage to the optic nerve. Faulty glycosaminoglycan (GAG) synthesis or breakdown in the trabecular meshwork associated with aqueous outflow has also been implicated. Similar to patients with cataracts, those with glaucoma typically have compromised antioxidant defense systems as well. Nutrients that can impact GAGs such as vitamin C and glucosamine sulfate may hold promise for glaucoma treatment. Vitamin C in high doses has been found to lower IOP via its osmotic effect. Other nutrients holding some potential benefit for glaucoma include lipoic acid, vitamin B12, magnesium, and melatonin. Botanicals may offer some therapeutic potential. Ginkgo biloba increases circulation to the optic nerve; forskolin (an extract from Coleus forskohlii) has been used successfully as a topical agent to lower IOP; and intramuscular injections of Salvia miltiorrhiza have shown benefit in improving visual acuity and peripheral vision in people with glaucoma.

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