Taurine and Macular Degeneration
People who have macular degeneration often experience some amount of vision loss and, in advanced cases, blindness. This eye disease damages the macula, one area on the retina that lines the back of your eye. Since treatment does not typically restore lost vision, taking preventative measures may help you avoid severe vision loss from this disease.
There are two types of macular degeneration, wet and dry. Dry macular degeneration occurs when your rods and cones, the cells that make up the macular tissue, break down. When healthy, these cells transmit visual information, but damaged cells cannot send or receive these visual cues. This will often result in a smudged or blurred area of central vision, the sight you use for reading and other daily activities. Wet macular degeneration occurs when abnormal blood vessels form under the macular tissue. These fragile vessels may leak fluid under the macula, resulting in a pool that lifts the tissue out of position on the back of the eye. This will result in serious vision loss that, in most cases, doctors cannot reverse.
Your body makes taurine, a substance many refer to as an amino acid. Taurine helps to make up the bile in your digestive system, but your tissues and other parts of your body, including your brain, also contain taurine. In fact, your retina holds taurine, and some research indicates that taurine may help prevent retinal disease.
In a 1998 study conducted by Thorne Research, researchers studied the effects of taurine on animals. Findings concluded that taurine use may offer a treatment for macular degeneration. However, these findings were not replicated in human studies. As of the publication date of this article, taurine has not been proven to treat or prevent macular degeneration, but researchers continue to evaluate the possibilities associated with taurine.
Since treatment options will typically only help prevent further damage to your macular tissue, you should work with your doctor in the ways to prevent macular degeneration. In a 2001 study, the National Eye Institute determined that high doses of nutrients such as zinc, vitamin A, vitamin C and vitamin E may help prevent advanced forms of macular degeneration. Your doctor may recommend a daily vitamin formulation that contains these and other beneficial nutrients.
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