Vitamin B3 (2017) & Glaucoma
Learn more about glaucoma.
Glaucoma involves damage to the optic nerve thought to be caused by high intraocular pressure (due to blocked drainage). Recent research has also found that oxidative stress caused by free radicals may be an even more important contributing factor. (Zhao, et al, Gauthier, et al. 2016)
Glaucoma is a particular risk to those who are myopic and spend long hours on the computer.
These researchers pointed out that abnormalites in energy-producing part of cells, mitochondria, take place well before nerve damage can be detected by an eye doctor. In the retina there is a molecule called nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide (NAD) which is critically important in both cellular energy production and in the body's protection against oxidative stress (which has also been implicated in causing glaucoma).
Vitamin B3 is a precursor of NAD and has protective effects against glaucoma. In addition, the gene which regulates production of the enzyme Nmnat1 was found to be both protective and effective as a therapy for glaucoma.
Application of vitamin B3 was very simple - it was added to the animals' drinking water.
production of the molecule NAD, which is important for cellular energy production, slows down as we age. Lowered energy production within cells, and within nerve cells means that they are more vulnerable to stress - such as that caused by high intraocular pressure.
The researchers tested various doses and found that the highest dose protected against 93% of glaucoma incidences in mice that were genetically prone to developing glaucoma.
Researchers: P.A. Williams, J.M. Harder, S.W. John,et al
Published: Vitamin B3 modulates mitochondrial vulnerability and prevents glaucoma in aged mice, Science, February, 2017.
It should be noted that in a single published case study in 2008, it was determined that in an elderly man, taking 500mg of niacin (vitamin B3) experienced a rise in intraocular pressure --- which decreased when B3 intake was stopped.
This is only a single instance, but it does mark the need for thorough testing of B3 use. This patient had a history of glaucoma and the rise may have been due to an interaction with his other medications.
Researchers: E.H. Tittler, et al.
Published: Oral niacin can increase intraocular pressure, Ophthalmic Surgery, July-August, 2008.