Friday January 19, 2018

Drinking hot tea may be less likely to develop glaucoma

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Drinking hot tea may be less likely to develop glaucoma
FILE - A woman walks in a yard where tea leaves are dried at a tea company in Dening, Fujian Province, China, April 2, 2016. U.S. researchers say people who drink hot tea daily may be less likely than others to develop glaucoma symptoms. VOA
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January 1, 2018: People who drink hot tea daily may be less likely than others to develop glaucoma symptoms, U.S. researchers say.

Compared to coffee, soft drink and iced tea drinkers, study participants who consumed a cup or more of hot caffeinated tea daily had 74 percent lower odds of having glaucoma, the study authors report in the British Journal of Ophthalmology.

“Glaucoma can lead to blindness, and it would be great if it could be prevented because there is no cure,” said lead author Dr. Anne Coleman of the University of California, Los Angeles.

“The best way to prevent it is to get your eyes checked,” Coleman told Reuters Health in a telephone interview. “But we are also interested in lifestyle habits and what we can do to make a difference.”

Glaucoma is the second leading cause of blindness worldwide, according to the World Health Organization, affecting an estimated 58 million people. That includes more than three million Americans, only half of whom are aware they have the disease, according to the Glaucoma Research Foundation.
Coffee, or caffeine in general have previously been linked to increased glaucoma risk, although recent studies don’t agree, Coleman and her colleagues write.

To evaluate the relationship between specific caffeinated drinks and glaucoma, Coleman and colleagues analyzed data on a sample of more than 10,000 people in the U.S. who were representative of the entire population.

Participants in the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey during 2005-2006 answered questions about their diets and lifestyles, had medical exams and blood tests and also underwent eye examinations.

About 1,700 participants were over age 40, had no other known eye diseases and had full eye examination results from the survey. In this group, Coleman’s team found that just over 5 percent, 82 people, had glaucoma.

Almost half of participants reported drinking coffee often, but less than 10 percent drank hot tea daily. The research team found no associations between coffee, iced tea, decaffeinated tea or soft drink consumption and the likelihood of having glaucoma.

“Tea drinkers should keep drinking and don’t need to stop because of a fear of glaucoma,” Coleman said. “This makes sense, but we’ll see if it holds up in future studies.”

Future studies should look at the habits, activities and nutrition that affect lifestyle and glaucoma risks, said Idan Hecht of Tel-Aviv University in Israel, who wasn’t involved in the research.

“In the past few years, there has been a tremendous increase in interest, and subsequently research, into the ways lifestyle changes can influence diseases,” Hecht told Reuters Health by email.

Recent research indicates that vitamins C, E and zinc can help vision. Other studies indicate that antioxidants in tea could have similar effects, he noted.

“Patients can and should be involved and take an active role in the management of their ailments,” Hecht said. “Exercising, eating healthy and trying novel ways to improve your health is something you should definitely explore and bring up with your physician.”

Environmental factors could play a role in glaucoma risk as well, said Dr. Ahmad Aref at the University of Illinois at Chicago.

“As our population grows older, we need to think about the other factors that could help, particularly when it comes to the health benefits of physical activity,” he told Reuters Health by phone.

Overall, both medical and non-medical approaches are key to treating the disease in the future, Aref added.

“It’s a tough disease because we don’t have a way to bring vision back once it’s lost,” he said. “All we can do is prevent it from getting worse, and we want to help patients do that.” (VOA)

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Treating blindness with stem cell therapy

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Stem cells will now treat blindness. Pixabay
Stem cells will now treat blindness. Pixabay

Stem cell-derived retinal cells can now be used to treat age-related macular degeneration (AMD). These advances have been made my a team of scientists led by a person of Indian origin.

Findings

  • Tiny tube-like protrusions called primary cilia on cells of the retinal pigment epithelium (RPE) — a layer of cells in the back of the eye — are essential for the survival of the retina’s light-sensing photoreceptors.
  • This may help scientists to use induced-pluripotent stem cells to create adult RPE for transplants to treat patients with geographic atrophy, otherwise known as dry AMD.

“We now have a better idea about how to generate and replace RPE cells, which appear to be among the first type of cells to stop working properly in AMD,” said lead researcher Kapil Bharti, Stadtman Investigator at the National Eye Institute (NEI), part of the National Institutes of Health.

The results have been incorporated into the group's protocol for making clinical-grade RPE stem cells. Wikimedia commons
The results have been incorporated into the group’s protocol for making clinical-grade RPE stem cells. Wikimedia commons

How they go about it

  • In geographic atrophy, RPE cells die, which causes photoreceptors to degenerate, leading to vision loss.
  • The team hopes to halt the degeneration and reverse the progression of geographic atrophy, by replacing diseased the RPE with lab-made RPE.
  • The team tested three drugs known to modulate the growth of primary cilia on stem cells-derived RPE.
  • However, these RPE cells have a tendency to get developmentally stuck.
  • The cells frequently fail to mature into functional RPE capable of supporting photoreceptors. In cases where they do mature, however, RPE maturation coincides with the emergence of primary cilia on the induced-pluripotent stem cells-RPE cells.
  • They found that the two drugs known to enhance cilia growth significantly improved the structural and functional maturation of the RPE stem cells, while the cells exposed to the third drug, demonstrated severely disrupted structure and functionality.

The results have been incorporated into the group’s protocol for making clinical-grade RPE stem cells, Bharti said.

The study was published in journal Cell Reports. (IANS)