According to a study published in the journal Scientific Reports, turmeric, commonly found condiment in Indian households with various health benefits, can treat a group of eye conditions which damages optic nerves causing vision loss. The research showed that administering curcumin- the bioactive compound of turmeric- directly to the back of the eye using eye drops may reduce the loss of retinal cells, which is known to be an early sign of the eye condition glaucoma.
According to the researchers, 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.
Since curcumin has poor solubility and it does not easily dissolve and get absorbed into the bloodstream, oral administration is difficult. Thus, the researchers developed a nano-carrier that contained the curcumin within a surfactant combined with a stabiliser, both of which are known to be safe for human use and are already used in existing eye products. The nano-carrier can be used in eye drops to deliver higher loads of curcumin.
The product tested using rat models, who received the eye drop twice daily for three weeks, showed that retinal ganglion cell loss was significantly reduced, and the treatment was found to be well-tolerated with no signs of eye irritation or inflammation like condition.
The researchers are now researching diagnostic uses for these eye drops alongside other ways to visualise the retina, as eye tests can be an opportunity to detect signs of neurodegeneration with a simple, non-invasive test.
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