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Wednesday, October 20, 2021

Glaucoma: Eye conditions could be cured by memory boosting pill taken by millions – experts

Citicoline, a memory-boosting pill, can help prevent Glaucoma.

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A new study showed that Citicoline, a natural chemical in the body, could help prevent Glaucoma also known as ‘the silent thief of sight’ the leading cause of blindness in its tracks.

Glaucoma is one of the leading eye condition causes blindness in people over the age of 60. It can happen to anyone but is more common in older adults. The effect is so gradual that you may not notice a change in vision until the condition is at an advanced stage.

About 3 million Americans have glaucoma that can lead to loss of vision if left untreated – but only half know it.

The disease occurs when fluid inside the eyeball does not drain properly, causing a build-up of pressure. Eye-drops are the main current treatment.

In experiments, the compound restored optic nerve signals between the brain and eye to near-normal levels in rats.

Senior author Dr. Kevin Chan, of New York University, said: “Our study suggests citicoline protects against glaucoma through a mechanism different from that of standard treatments that reduce fluid pressure.

“Since glaucoma interrupts the connection between the brain and eye, we hope to strengthen it with new types of therapies.”

The 30 pence a day supplement is available commercially across the world. It is said to sharpen thinking by increasing blood flow to grey matter.

It may be more than just an issue of eye pressure. Citicoline is known to protect nerve cells, say the US team.

When the eye’s vital watery fluid builds up in glaucoma patients, it wears down cells and the nerves connecting them to the brain, they explained.

But the irreversible condition continues to worsen even after the pressure has been controlled – with the link remaining poorly understood.

In the lab rodents, it was reversed after they ingested citicoline in their food and drink.

It produces choline, an essential nutrient in membranes that line nerve cells and enhance communication.

Analysis also confirmed elevated eye pressure fuels glaucoma. However, citicoline treated it in a different way.

Dubbed ‘the silent thief of sight’, it can develop slowly over many years and doesn’t always cause symptoms at first.

In the US, more than 120,000 individuals have been blinded by the disease. The World Health Organisation estimates there are over 60 million sufferers across the globe.

The results published in Neurotherapeutics shed fresh light on how it works. They add to growing evidence citicoline may counter it, said Dr Chan.

Previous studies show humans and rodents with glaucoma have lower than normal levels of choline in the brain.

Until now there has been little concrete evidence of the effectiveness of supplements as a therapy – or why choline is reduced in patients.

Over three weeks, giving rats oral doses of citicoline protected nerve tissues and reduced vision loss sustainably – even after the treatment stopped for another three weeks.

Glaucoma was simulated in dozens of rats using a clear gel to build up eye pressure without otherwise blocking their vision.

The structure, function, and physiological activity of the visual pathway were measured using MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) brain scans.

Dr. Chan and colleagues also tracked the animals to test the clarity of sight of each eye.

In those with mildly elevated eye pressure the tissues that connect the eye and brain, including the optic nerve, decayed for up to five weeks after the injury occurred.

Meanwhile, nerve structure breakdown in the citicoline-treated rodents slowed by as much as 74 percent – indicating the chemical protected them.

More work is needed before turning to citicoline supplements for glaucoma, added Dr Chan. Commercial drugs have yet to be proven fully effective in clinical trials.

The researchers now plan to investigate the origin of choline decline in people with glaucoma, as well as how citicoline works to repair the damage.

Other studies have suggested citicoline supplements may slow the onset of dementia and Parkinson’s disease. They are usually well-tolerated but may cause nausea and diarrhea.

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