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N‐acetylcarnosine (NAC) – A preventive option for eye conditions that’s safer than surgery?

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With the progression of age it is all too common to start to exhibit eye problems, these range from the irritating (literally) sore eyes and dry eye syndrome through to floaters, blurred vision and simply a need for regular lubrication to make contact lenses more pleasant.

At the more extreme end of the spectrum are macular degeneration and cataracts, the latter of which is the world’s leading cause of blindness, with all the life limiting impacts that come with this. In the UK and USA alone it is estimated that cataracts impact 2m people each year with circa 18m being blind globally as a result.

Cataract operations are of course hugely successful for around 95% of people with only around 1 in 1000 treatments resulting in subsequent damaging infection. They can also be a relatively low cost or free treatment in many countries – but sadly they are not available universally and not everybody is happy with the risk of such unpleasant surgery. The search then has been on for the causes of eye problems in the reasonable assumption that once this is known, non-surgical options can be developed with the hope of reversing or at the very least helping to slow down or prevent eyesight problems.

A front runner in many health scenarios is the concept of oxidisation in the body – this is perhaps most easily explained by referencing something we can all witness – metal rust and corrosion.  In the body, over time, our metabolism, like rust in the real world, reacts with oxygen and produces reactive chemicals (reactive oxygen species). These are potentially harmful and are believed highly likely to lead to age related changes in our body, such as cataracts and degeneration generally. Oxidisation can even adversely impact DNA.

So anti-oxidants, which help prevent said oxidation are big news in many aspects of life and help explain the current foodie obsession with Blueberries, Goji berries, Kale and the like. Consuming such foods is probably no bad thing but it is somewhat far removed from directly targeting eye health.

This is where Carnosine, a naturally occurring dipeptide comes into the story as it has a proven ability to reduce free radicals in the body and has an antioxidant effect on the cataractous lens. The difficulty is that applying carnosine topically externally will not penetrate the surface of the eye.

A carrier vehicle solves this problem, just as gin probably goes down better with tonic! In this case the carrier NAC (N‐acetylcarnosine) successfully penetrates the anterior chamber of the eye via an easy to apply eye drop to reach the cornea. From here the body can metabolise the drug into L‐carnosine, which is considered to have a proven ability to reduce oxidisation and a probable benefit with subsequent eyesight problems, or their prevention and slowing.

The use of L‐carnosine in ophthalmic applications as an antioxidant has been documented by Babizhayev MA in Clinica Chimica Acta, the International peer reviewed Journal of Clinical Chemistry and Laboratory Medicine. Their study was to evaluate if NAC can stop the lens from becoming cloudy, or reduce the cloudiness, as this might improve people’s vision and quality of life.

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Claimed Effectiveness

Clinical studies conducted in the USA and Russia are yet to be fully classified but so far are not believed to have identified any serious negative aspects. The use of NAC therefore offers a potentially better outcome than simply doing nothing, which is sadly the norm in many countries, but an uncertain verdict as to whether it can reverse damage.

However research so far suggests just 1% active ingredient N-Acetyl-Carnosine (NAC) may:

  • Reduce Oxidisation
  • Lubricate the eye
  • Aid Contact lens usage (with prolonged usage)
  • Has an antioxidant effect on cataractous lenses
  • Protection against eye irritation
  • Relieves dryness of the eye
  • The only real alternative to cataract surgery

It is worth noting that there is some possible reticence by big-pharma to help facilitate more detailed expensive trials, possibly due to upsetting the status quo of hospitals, surgeons, medical equipment manufacturers and even lens suppliers who rely on the income from physical interventions through cataract surgery being the sole recommended solution today.

Can-C vs other eye drops

There are multiple freely‐available brands of eye drops purported to help eye health, including potentially to reverse cataract. These can be obtained without prescription and over the Internet. In our view these are often false claims as the drops simply cannot penetrate the eye. At best they act as artificial tears and as such can be effective in soothing the eye or helping to flush out an irritant. Accordingly such products do not merit a premium price tag in most cases.

  • However prophylactic products are bound within a NAC carrier designed to penetrate the eye, thereby providing the potential additional health benefits as outlined previously including with regard to possible cataract benefits.

Eye drops can also be out of balance with the PH of your eye, causing severe stinging.

  • Can-C also has the additional benefit of being delivered in a PH neutral carrier, so for eyes in good health their should be no adverse stinging of any magnitude. Hence why this particular product is the frequent additional treatment option preferred by ophthalmologist and medical practitioners aiming to reduce surgery and associated complications from operations.

Users of Can-C also report improvements with regard to:

  • Dry eye syndrome
  • Eye strain
  • Blurred vision
  • And as a fantastic long-term contact lens lubricant

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Dosages

Depending on the reason for usage the drops can be used from 1-4 times per day and just 1-2 drops per session. They are best applied either laying down or leaning right back and looking up – it is important to not blink or close the eye suddenly as the drops need to be absorbed into the eye tissue, not blinked out with tears.

A course of treatment for cataract usage is recommended for a minimum of two months and may be required indefinitely to prevent the progression of the cataract.