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Researchers at DIT investigating relationship between diet and glaucoma

Posted: 12 May, 2017

Researchers at the Centre for Eye Research Ireland at DIT are investigating the relationship between diet and glaucoma, one of the leading causes of blindness in Ireland and the world.

CERI - Glaucoma

The European Nutrition in Glaucoma Managament trial (ENIGMA) comprises a 2-year clinical trial to determine the potential benefits of MP supplementation on vision and quality of life including symptoms of glare among glaucoma subjects. 

It is well recognised that vision impairment from glaucoma is a major contributing factor to falls and motor vehicle collisions. Glaucoma patients commonly suffer from disability glare and the cause for this is poorly understood.

The modern diet is deficient in many nutrients essential for optimal eye health, including macular carotenoids. Three dietary carotenoids -- lutein (L), zeaxanthin (Z), and meso-zeaxanthin (MZ) -- selectively accumulate at the macula of the retina, the part of the eye with the sharpest vision. L, Z and MZ are collectively referred to as macular pigment (MP). MP is responsible for maintaining eye health and contributing to good vision including minimising glare. Leafy green vegetables, corn, yellow peppers and eggs are good sources of these carotenoids. 

If successful, ENIGMA will lead to the development of a novel adjunct therapy for the management of glaucoma. This may create lifestyle benefits for glaucoma patients and potentially give some people back the freedom to drive safely at night.

A previous study by Professor James Loughman’s team at DIT has revealed that MP levels are low in glaucoma subjects, and that the lack thereof is associated with more severe visual loss and structural damage particularly affecting central vision.

The Centre for Eye Research Ireland is a dedicated ophthalmic research centre with cutting edge edge facilities at the Environmental Sustainability and Health Institute, a hub of research and innovation in the heart of DIT Grangegorman. Alongside glaucoma, priority research areas at the centre include: myopia, nutrition for eye health, dry eye, cognition, technology translation, international development and digital health.

For more information, please contact:

Professor James Loughman, james.loughman@dit.ie, (01) 402-5412