Glutathione (2005, 2013) Levels Low in Glaucoma Patients


Learn more about glaucoma.

Scientists have suspected that many eye conditions are related to low antioxidant levels in eye tissue. Glaucoma is one of the conditions for which this is true.

Glutathione is an antioxidant that can protect against damage from free radicals. It isn't considered an essential nutrient because the body can create it through a metabolism process involving specific amino acids. But one of the amino acids needed, cysteine, is rare in foods and its presence or lack becomes a limited factor in availability of glutathione in the body.


Read about the role of oxidative stress on glaucoma risk.


Following up on earlier research, scientists wanted to compare glutathione levels in patients with primary open angle glaucoma and patients with normal tension glaucoma. Such a study would help to identify antioxidants rather than IOP as a primary cause of glaucoma.

The subjects were 34 primary open angle glaucoma patients, 30 normal tension glaucoma patients and 53 control subjects.

Patients with closed angle glaucoma, secondary glaucoma, or a history of eye surgery or other vision condition were excluded.

The participants all received blood analysis, blood pressure testing and IOP measurements.

The participants were age- and gender-matched.

Regardless of age both groups of patients with glaucoma had markedly lower levels of glutathione in their blood. These results indicate for the first time that the health of the antioxidant defense system is a key component to glaucoma risk.

Researchers: D. Gherghel, S. Mroczkowska, et al,
Published: Reduction in Blood Glutathione Levels Occurs Similarly in Patients With Primary-Open Angle or Normal Tension Glaucoma, Glaucoma, May, 2013.


Researchers wanted to evaluate how much glutathione was in the blood plasma of glaucoma patients compared to glutathione levels in people without optic nerve problems. The patients were all newly diagnosed with glaucoma and had IOP measurements of higher than 21 mmHg as well as other indicators of the condition. Patients with narrow angles, secondary open-angle glaucoma, previous surgery or other vision conditions were excluded. The study included 21 glaucoma patients with primary open-angle glaucoma and 34 sex- and age-matched controls.

A blood analysis found that the glaucoma patients had markedly less glutathione in their blood plasma. They also found that in the control group the men had higher levels of glutathione than the women and the younger people had higher levels than the older subjects. There were no differences in blood pressure, which had also been measured.

The researchers concluded that the low levels of glutathione suggested an overall low quality of the antioxidant defense system. This is important because scientists now understand that the ability of the body to fight off free radical damage is a matter of balance between free radicals and antioxidants in the body.

Researchers: D. Gherghel, H.R. Griffiths, et al,
Published: Systemic Reduction in Glutathione Levels Occurs in Patients with Primary Open-Angle Glaucoma, Glaucoma, March, 2005.