A natural compound made in the body has been approved by the EU for use as a dietary supplement. The research on cytidine-5-diphosphocholine (or CDP-choline), otherwise known as Citicoline, suggests that people with glaucoma may benefit from using Citicoline as a supplement to help prevent damage to retinal cells.
Glaucoma is recognised as a chronic neurodegenerative disease and a leading cause of blindness. The disease involves damage to cells at the back of the eye called the retinal ganglion cells. Most often, the disease process occurs over many years, starting with cells that relate to the outer periphery of vision. In fact many people with early glaucoma may be unaware of it as the initial stages of disease may not be noticed. As the cells lose their ability to function they become dormant and eventually die by a process of cell suicide called apoptosis. Which can ultimately lead to destruction of the optic nerve and blindness.
A major factor in the progression of the disease, is high pressure in the eyes. Though this is not always the case, and some people develop glaucoma even with normal eye pressure. By the same token, some people have high intraocular pressure but do not develop glaucomatous changes.
If you are found to have high intraocular pressure your doctors priority will be to reduce that pressure, to limit damage to the eye and subsequent vision loss. This might be achieved with eye drops or surgery. Yet, these treatments are not always successful and continued progressive loss of vision is common.
One reason for this could be that, other than lowering eye pressure these treatments do not provide protection to the retinal ganglion cells. Scientists now know that certain substances offer the possibility to protect the retinal cells and preserve their function. One such substance is Citicoline. However, there may be many other dietary supplements that may provide similar protection, some of which I wrote about in my post Effective natural remedies for glaucoma.
Citicoline also acts as a neuroprotector for people with Alzheimer’s disease, stroke and Parkinson’s disease. And, scientists suggest that Citicoline is a safe supplement with few adverse effects, such as mild digestive disturbance.
Though CDP-choline can be made in the body, it can become depleted so there may be advantages to taking Citicoline as a supplement. Scientists believe that it may be beneficial by several mechanisms, including:
- Citicoline is a source of choline, and if choline is limited this can ultimately lead to death of certain nerve fibres.
- Choline can also be metabolised to glutathione, an important antioxidant in the body. Glutathione is a neuroprotector since it helps to prevent free radical damage to cell membranes.
Researchers suggested that citicoline may help to save minimally damaged retinal ganglion cells, effectively lifting them out of the dormant stage, and preventing glaucoma progression. However, they conclude that more and larger clinical trials are needed to obtain the data required for recommendation of a dosage that could sustain the visual improvements that Citicoline demonstrates.