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Antioxidant May Cure and Prevent Cataracts

Update Date: Oct 10, 2012 09:25 AM EDT

While recent reports about coffee being linked to eye-sight loss have made the rounds, a new study reveals how a specific type of antioxidant not only reduces the risk of visual impairment (such as that linked to coffee) but  can be used to prevent and even cure cataracts, macular degeneration and other degenerative eye disorders.

Dr. Nuran Ercal of the the Richard K. Vitek/Foundation for Chemical Research Endowed Chair in Biochemistry at Missouri S&T reveals that the antioxidant N-acetylcysteine amide (NACA) can be most beneficial for the eye and should be used as a viable treatment method among optometrists and other specialists.

"NACA's characteristics as a drug were improved over NAC by neutralizing the carboxylic group of NAC, which makes the NACA pass cellular membranes easily," says Ercal. "And because NACA can be administered at a lower dose, the drug has a greater therapeutic index and lowers the risk of side effects traditionally associated with NAC.

The researcher also notes that NACA is rich in glutathione which is abundant in eye cells and which degenerates over time, leaving most people with loss of vision and others to develop cataracts.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, age-related eye disorders, affect more than 30 million people in the United States and is expected to grow In the coming years.

During preliminary studies conducted for Ercal's doctoral dissertation,  "The NACA solution prevented cataracts from forming," says Ercal. "Our research will build on Josh's research, to see if NACA can actually reverse the degeneration as well."

Study authors note that although the earlier studies seemed promising,  further testing will help establish appropriate dosage and frequency, as well as possible side effects and other factors.

While super foods such as apples, red garpes, raisons, plums and almost every berry (particular cranberries) many more are rich in antioxidants that can help boost the immune system, no specific foods are rich in the type of NACA. 

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