Cataracts: Cataracts are clumps of protein that collect on the lens
of an eye and interfere with vision.
Normally, light passes through the lens (the
clear tissue behind the pupil) and focuses on the retina. The retina is
the light-sensitive layer of the eye that sends visual signals to the
brain. A cataract occurs when the normally clear lens becomes cloudy. Most
cataracts develop slowly over time and are a natural result of aging.
Cataracts and Alpha Lipoic Acid
It is believed that antioxidants may protect the lens against damage
caused by free radicals. It is also thought that ALA’s ability to
encourage the production of the antioxidant glutathione would help to
protect our eyes from developing cataracts. The following study helps to
In this experiment, one group of newborn rats was given a drug called (BSO)
that inhibits production of glutothione. Another group of newborn rats
were given BSO along with an injection of lipoic acid. Newborn rats do not
open their eyes until the 6th week of life, but from past experiments it
was known that when these glutathione-deprived rats did open their eyes,
they would all have cataracts. Would lipoic acid protect against cataracts
caused by glutathione deficiency? At the end of the 6 weeks all of the
rats that were given just the BSO developed cataracts. Yet almost all of
the rats that were also given lipoic acid supplementation had remained
cataract free. Further testing showed glutathione levels were much higher
in eye lens of the rats treated with lipoic acid but severely depleted in
those that were not treated with lipoic acid. Maitra et al (1) suggest
alpha-lipoic acid's protective effect for BSO-induced cataract formation
is probably due to its protective effects on lens antioxidants. The lens
antioxidants glutathione, ascorbate, and vitamin E were depleted to 45,
62, and 23% of control levels, respectively, by BSO treatment, but were
maintained at 84-97% of control levels when R-alpha-lipoic acid was
Ou P, Nourooz-Zadeh J, Tritschler HJ, Wolff SP. Activation of aldose
reductase in rat lens and metal-ion chelation by aldose reductase
inhibitors and lipoic acid. Free Radic Res 1996;25:337-346)
Glaucoma: Glaucoma is a slowly progressing disease that causes
damage to the eye's optic nerve and can result in blindness. Open-angle
glaucoma, the most common form of the disease, affects about three million
Americans. It is the leading cause of blindness for African-Americans.
Because there are usually no symptoms at first, half of the people with
this disease don't know they have it. With early treatment, serious vision
loss and blindness can usually be prevented.
What Causes It?
A clear fluid flows in and out of the space at the front of the eye,
nourishing nearby tissues. Glaucoma causes the fluid to pass through too
slowly or to stop draining altogether. As the fluid builds up, the
pressure inside the eye increases, causing damage to the optic nerve and
Glaucoma and Alpha Lipoic Acid - Forty-five patients with stage I and II
open-angle glaucoma (OAG) were administered either 75 mg of alpha-lipoic
acid for 2 months or 150 mg for 1 month. A control group of 31 patients
with OAG were administered only local hypotensive therapy. The greatest
improvement of biochemical parameters (gamma-glutamyl transpeptidase and
non-protein SH-groups), visual function, and the coefficient of efficacy
of liquid discharge was observed in the patients administered the higher
dose of alpha-lipoic acid. Preliminary evidence indicates that 150 mg of
alpha lipoic acid, taken daily for one month, significantly improves
visual function in people with glaucoma.*
* Filina AA, Davydova NG, Endrikhovskii SN, et al. Lipoic acid as a
means of metabolic therapy of open-angle glaucoma. Vestn Oftalmol
statements have not been evaluated by the food and drug administration.
The products mentioned are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or
prevent any disease. Always see your licensed health care professional for
proper diagnosis and treatment.
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