Study: Taurine (1987) & Night Blindness



Learn more about support for night blindness.

Researchers have long known that taurine is necessary for proper functioning of the photoreceptor cells in the retina. The photoreceptors consist of cones, which work well in bright light, sense color and are responsible for most depth perception, and rods, which work well in dim light and do not support detection of shapes/sizes (depth perception) very well. The center of the retina is mostly cones, the edges are mostly rods.

Taurine helps damaged cells in the retina regenerate and is partially responsible for maintaining the integrity of the pigmented cells as well as the photoreceptors.

People with poor night vision, known as night blindness or nyctalopia cannot see well in dim light and have a hard time adapting to sudden changes in lighting.

Researchers have found in both in-vivo and in-vitro experiments that deficiencies in taurine are associated with weakness in both the structure and function of photoreceptor cells. While the protective mechanism of taurine is not clearly understood the connection is certainly there.

In in-vivo studies researchers reported that it is well established that photoreceptors are damaged when taurine deficiencies reach a critical level. This is measured by evaluating the bioelectrical response of the cells via an electroretinogram (ERG) which shows much lower activity on several kinds of electrical impulses measured. Accompanying this lowered response is the fact that photoreceptor membranes swell, become disorganized, and increasingly damaged as the deficiency continues.

Ryan J. Huxtable, et al, editors, The Biology of Taurine: Methods and Mechanisms, "Taurine and Photoreceptor Structure: Biochemical and Electrophysiological Studies," H. Pasantes-Morales, et al, Boston, MA Springer, 1987.