Alpha Lipoic Acid (ALA) May Help Glaucoma

how glaucoma looksThe supplement alpha lipoic acid (ALA) showed some promise for helping glaucoma patients. Patients who had open angle glaucoma were given the 150 mg of ALA per day to see if the supplement made an difference to the effects of this common eye disease. The study showed that 45-47% of the eyes in the study enhanced color visual fields and visual sensitivity versus the controls. The controls only received topical medical therapy.

Alpha lipoic acid is present in every cell in the human body. It converts glucose into energy.

Lipoic acid is a fatty acid that is in most foods, but only in very tiny amounts. Certain organ meats, broccoli, yeast extract and spinach have slightly higher quantities of lipoic acid, but not a significant amount. Lipoic acid found in foods is not readily usable by the body.

All lipoic acid supplements are synthesized chemically. The R/S-LA and RLA forms of lipoic acid are popular nutritional supplements in the United States. They come in tablets, capsules and liquids. No Recommended Daily Allowance (RDA) of lipoic acid has been established, because it is not an essential nutrient.

An antioxidant, lipoic acid functions in both water and fat. It is used for peripheral neuropathy, improving brain functioning, and age-related conditions caused by free radicals. It is so believed to be helpful for multiple sclerosis, burning mouth syndrome, cataracts,  Alzheimer’s disease and stroke, but well-designed studies are needed to test these theories.

Glaucoma causes “tunnel vision” (see image above) and Natural Eye care has a list of supplements that may help with Glaucoma. Glaucoma symptoms are often not noticed until peripheral vision is lost gradually, over time. Glaucoma involves damage to the optic nerve. This is sometimes caused by an increase in pressure of the aqueous humor (the fluid inside the eye). The disease known as glaucoma is actually several diseases that cause damage to the optic nerve. The diagnosis is no longer solely based on  Intraocular Pressure (IOL) being elevated (this is the puff of air the optometrist applies to your eyes during a routine eye exam).

Interestingly, alpha lipoic acid had a better effect on people with more  advanced cases of glaucoma versus their controls. According to the researchers, “The effect of lipoic acid may be explained by its antioxidant properties and direct influence on ocular tissue metabolism.”

Study: “Lipoic acid as a means of metabolic therapy of open-angle glaucoma.” Filina AA, Davydova NG, Endrikhovskiĭ SN, Shamshinova AM. Vestn Oftalmol. 1995 Oct-Dec;111(4):6-8.

Consult your doctor before taking supplements.