Unless you’ve been living in a cave the last 10 years, you’ve no doubt read story after story about the health benefits of turmeric and one of its compounds, curcumin. Curcumin is the main active ingredient in turmeric. It is a powerful anti-oxidant and has strong anti-inflammatory effects. Turmeric and Curcumin have been studied, tested, and diagnosed as helping heart disease, cancer, brain functions, Alzheimer’s, arthritis, depression, and aging. Now we might be able to add glaucoma to the list.
A new study by the UCL Institute of Ophthalmology, Western Eye Hospital, and Imperial College London, as reported in Scientific Reporter, says a new method of delivering eye drops directly to the back of the eye has overcome curcumin’s poor solubility and shown to reduce the loss of retinal cells in rats, which is an early sign of glaucoma. Researchers developed a special nanocarrier made of substances safe for human use, and which have already been incorporated into some eye products. Curcumin has previously been shown to protect retinal ganglion cells when administered orally.
“Curcumin is an exciting compound that has shown promise at detecting and treating the neurodegeneration implicated in numerous eye and brain conditions from glaucoma to Alzheimer’s disease, so being able to administer it easily in eye drops may end up helping millions of people,” said the study’s lead author, Professor Francesca Cordeiro.
The researchers are hopeful this process could also be used to diagnose Alzheimer’s disease, as curcumin is known to bind to the amyloid beta protein deposits implicated in Alzheimer’s, and can be detected in the retina with fluorescence to highlight the malignant proteins.