Glutathione In The Treatment Of Glaucoma

Glutathione in the Treatment of Glaucoma

What is Glutathione?

Glutathione is naturally produced by the liver.[1] 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.[2]

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

None reported.

Potential Drug Interactions

None known.

Recommended Dosage

Evidence suggests that Glutathione is broken down in the stomach into its amino acid building blocks.[3] 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.


1) Anderson ME. Glutathione: an overview of biosynthesis and modulation. Chem Biol Interact 1998;24;111-112:1-14.

Lu SC. Regulation of hepatic glutathione synthesis: current concepts and controversies. FASEB J 1999;13:1169-83.

2) Joronen E, Tasa G, Veromann S, et. al. Polymorphic glutathione S-transferase M1 is a risk factor of primary open angle glaucoma among Estonians. Exp. Eye Res. 2000; 71:447 – 452.

Unal M nal, Gu¨ven M, Devranog?k lu,  O¨ zayd?n A, et al. Glutathione transferase M1 and T1 genetic polymorphisms are related to the risk of primary open-angle glaucoma: a study in a Turkish population. Br J Ophthalmol. 2007;91:527–530.

Khaled K, Abu-Amero, Morales J, et al. Glutathione S-transferase M1 and T1 polymorphisms   in Arab glaucoma patients. Molecular Vision. 2008;14:425-430.

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.

3) Lomaestro BM, Malone M. Glutathione in health and disease: pharmacotherapeutic issues. Ann Pharmacother 1995;29:1263-73.

Don’t delay getting checked for glaucoma.

Make an appointment with an eye doctor in your area now.  If you live in the greater Los Angeles area and would like Dr. Richardson to evaluate your eyes for glaucoma call 626-289-7856 now. No referral required. Appointments are available, Tuesday through Saturday.

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