Study: A derivative of turmeric can be used in eye drops to treat glaucoma
10/30/2018 // Ellaine Castillo // Views

Turmeric is an all-around wonder spice that is also used for medicinal purposes. Many of these applications can be attributed to the presence of curcumin in turmeric. One of the most recently discovered applications of curcumin is as an active compound in eye drops for treating glaucoma. This application was discovered by researchers from the University College London Institute of Opthalmology and Imperial College London.

Over 60 million people worldwide have been diagnosed with glaucoma. From these, there are 6 million cases that have progressed to irreversible blindness. Glaucoma is an eye disease, which is common in older people, where the optic nerve is damaged due to the buildup of fluid pressure inside the eyes. The optic nerve is crucial for vision since it is responsible for transmitting light-induced signals to the brain. When signals cannot be transmitted, then the person will not be able to see anything.

Previous studies have shown that, when taken orally, curcumin can protect retinal nerves. However, this didn't seem like the most appropriate way of administering curcumin since curcumin can't readily dissolve in the body; so it would be hard for it to be absorbed in the bloodstream. In addition to this, low solubility could also cause the working dosage of curcumin to be higher. To bypass this problem, the researchers decided that it might be best to administer curcumin directly on the eyes, in the form of eye drops.

The eye drops that was developed made use of a novel nanocarrier composed of a surfactant and stabilizer, which are both used in existing eye products. Curcumin was then contained within this nanocarrier. There are many perks associated with the development of the nanocarriers for the eye drops. One of these is that more curcumin can be loaded into the product, causing solubility to increase by almost 400,000.


Initial testing of the eye drops were done on a cell culture that modeled glaucoma. Once it was able to pass this, the researchers then moved on to animal trials. They administered the eye drops in rats two times a day for three weeks. The researchers were able to observe significant reductions in retinal ganglion cell loss. In addition to this, they did not observe signs of irritation or inflammation, which shows that the eye drops were not harmful to the rats. These prove that curcumin eye drops can effectively treat glaucoma.

Aside from treating glaucoma, the researchers want to further develop the eye drops so that it could be used as a simple, non-invasive diagnostic tool for diseases like Alzheimer's, which is also more common in older people. This is possible since curcumin binds to amyloid beta protein deposits that have been observed in Alzheimer's patients. (Related: Preventing Alzheimer’s: Scientists develop blood test capable of detecting toxic protein build up related to Alzheimer’s disease.)

Other health benefits of curcumin

Curcumin has many other health benefits aside from treating glaucoma. These include the following:

  • Reducing inflammation – Curcumin prevents constant inflammation, which could lead to heart disease, cancer, or Alzheimer's.
  • Preventing oxidative stress – Since curcumin has potent antioxidant properties, it can neutralize harmful free radicals that cause oxidative damage. Aside from this, curcumin can also promote activity of antioxidant enzymes in the body.
  • Lowering cancer risk – Previous studies have shown that curcumin can inhibit tumor growth and metastasis. In addition to this, curcumin also induces apoptosis in cancer cells.

Learn more about how curcumin treats glaucoma by visiting today.

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