Purpose: To investigate whether there is a role for ascorbic acid in the development of exfoliation syndrome (XFS).
Design: A case-control study was undertaken that included consecutive patients with and without XFS in whom cataract surgery was indicated. Patients with ophthalmic conditions other than XFS and conditions that may influence ascorbic acid levels were excluded.
Methods: A prospective institutional study was undertaken. A small volume of aqueous humor was aspirated at the beginning of phacoemulsification cataract surgery. Eighty aqueous samples, 40 samples from 40 eyes of 40 cataract patients with XFS and 40 samples from 40 eyes of 40 age matched cataract patients without XFS, were collected and analyzed. Ascorbic acid concentration was evaluated in the aqueous samples with a microplate assay method.
Results: The mean +/- SD concentration of ascorbic acid in the aqueous from patients with XFS (0.86 +/- 0.43 mM; range, 0.12 to 1.7 mM) was significantly lower than the concentration of ascorbic acid found in the aqueous of age-matched control patients (1.15 +/- 0.50 mM; range 0.42 to 3.1 mM; P =.0068). Total mean protein concentration was found to be significantly higher in the XFS group (481.1 +/- 196.8 pg/dl versus 336.3 +/- 86.4 pg/dl in the controls; P <.0001). Nevertheless, no correlation could be established between ascorbic level and protein concentration.
Conclusions: A significantly reduced mean level of ascorbic acid was observed in the aqueous humor of patients with XFS. In view of the fact that ascorbic acid is a major protective factor against free radical action, a role for free radical action is possible in the pathobiology of XFS.