Glutathione in the Treatment of Glaucoma
What is Glutathione?
Glutathione is naturally produced by the liver. It is used by the cells in our bodies to make and repair DNA and proteins. It is also a very important natural antioxidant.
Evidence That It Might Be Effective In The Treatment Of Glaucoma
Oxidative damage to the trabecular meshwork appears to be more common in patients with glaucoma. Glutathione is a powerful antioxidant and is naturally found in the eye. It is reasonable, then, to believe that Glutathione could function to protect the trabecular meshwork from damage. If the trabecular meshwork is protected then perhaps loss of vision from glaucoma could be delayed.
Glutathione’s potential role in the treatment of glaucoma is based on genetic studies. The gene for a free-radical scavenging protein Glutathione S-Transferase (GST) has a number of variations. One of these variations, called GSTM1 creates a protein that is not as effective at protecting from oxidative damage. Multiple studies have shown an association between the presence of GSTM1 and glaucoma.
If a defective Glutathione S-Transferase protein is allowing oxidative damage to occur in the eye then perhaps supplementing the amount of Glutathione could overcome this defect. That, at least, is one reason for using Glutathione supplementation. However, there are no animal or human studies that have looked at the use of Glutathione in the treatment of glaucoma.
Potential Side Effects and Risks
Potential Drug Interactions
Evidence suggests that Glutathione is broken down in the stomach into its amino acid building blocks. As such, it is questionable whether oral Glutathione supplements can be sufficiently absorbed into the bloodstream to produce any beneficial effect on the optic nerve. Due to both the limited evidence of benefit in patients with glaucoma and the likely need to administer Glutathione intramuscularly or intravenously, I do not currently recommend use of this supplement to treat glaucoma.
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Abdel Rasool HA, Nowier SR, Gheith M, et al. The Risk of Primary Open Angle Glaucoma and Glutathione S-Transferase M1 and T1 Polymorphism among Egyptians. J American Science. 2010;6(12):375-381.
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