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Antioxidants and cataract

R Thiagarajan, R Manikandan
Free Radical Research 2013, 47 (5): 337-45
The major causes for cataract formation are free radicals, and these free radicals are neutralized by the presence of endogenous antioxidants in the eye. Using xenobiotics, it has been confirmed that free radicals mediate the formation of cataract. Two cataract model-selenite model and the diabetic cataract model-have been developed to study the pathophysiology of cataract formation due to free radicals and the role of antioxidants during the process of cataractogenesis. This review focuses on natural compounds with antioxidant properties that could actually be applied as an interventional strategy on a large scale and are also relatively inexpensive. A brief overview of plants with antioxidant properties that in addition possess potential anti-cataract properties has been discussed. In addition to plants, three natural compounds (curcumin, vitamin C and vitamin E), on which a lot of data exist showing anti-cataract and antioxidant activities, have also been discussed. These antioxidants can be supplemented in the diet for a better defence against free radicals. Studies on vitamin C and vitamin E have proved that they are capable of preventing lipid peroxidation, thereby preventing the generation of free radicals, but their efficacy as anti-cataract agent is questionable. Unlike vitamins C and E, curcumin is well established as an anti-cataract agent, but the issue of curcumin bioavailability is yet to be addressed. Nanotechnology proves to be a promising area in increasing the curcumin bioavailability, but still a lot more research needs to be done before the use of curcumin as an effective anti-cataract agent for humans.


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