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Martin Kronschlager, Zhaohua Yu, Per G. Soderberg; Caffeine Eye Drops Prevent Ultraviolet Radiation Induced Cataract. Invest. Ophthalmol. Vis. Sci. 2012;53(14):3043. doi: https://doi.org/.
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Ultraviolet radiation (UVR) is a major contributor to age-associated cataract formation. Based on an in vitro experiment, it was proposed that caffeine, one of the most common nutrients, prevents UVR induced cataract through scavenging UVR generated free radicals. The purpose of this study was to test, in vivo, the protective effect of topically applied caffeine and to estimate the protection factor.
Two experiments were carried out. In the first experiment, 40 Sprague-Dawley rats were equally divided into two treatment groups, topical aqueous solution of methylcellulose only, or same vehicle containing caffeine, on both eyes. All animals were unilaterally exposed in vivo to 8 kJ/m^2 UVR-300 nm for 15 min. In the second experiment, 40 Sprague Dawley rats were divided into the same treatment groups, and the treatment groups were subdivided into 5 sub-groups of 4 animals, unilaterally receiving 0.0, 2.6, 3.7, 4.5 or 5.2 kJ/m^2 UVR. At 1 week post UVR exposure, light scattering in the exposed and contra lateral not exposed lens was measured quantitatively. Macroscopic lens changes were documented with dark field illumination.
In the first experiment, increased cortical and sub-capsular opalescence was observed in both treatment groups. In the second experiment, only increased sub-capsular opalescence was found. At 8 kJ/m^2 there was a significant difference of light scattering increase due to UVR-exposure between the treatment groups (95 % confidence interval for mean difference of increase between the groups = 0.10 ±0.05), indicating a protective effect of topical caffeine. The threshold dose of UVR (MTD2.3:16) for the caffeine group was 7.47 kJ/m^2 and for the no caffeine group was 3.47 kJ/m^2 resulting in a protection factor of 2.2 for the topical caffeine.
Topical caffeine protects against early onset of cataract induced by in vivo exposure to UVR-300 nm, reducing the lens sensitivity to half. Caffeine probably acts as an antioxidant.
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