Therapeutic potential of curcumin in major retinal pathologies

Int Ophthalmol. 2019 Mar;39(3):725-734. doi: 10.1007/s10792-018-0845-y. Epub 2018 Feb 5.


Purpose: The retina is continually exposed to free radicals from its rich blood supply, numerous mitochondria, and photons of light which strike its surface. Most pathological processes that take place in the retina, such as inflammation, cell apoptosis, or angiogenesis, can hence involve free radicals directly or indirectly. Since inflammatory and oxidative stress pathways underlie retinal pathology, compounds that address these factors are therefore natural choices for treatment. This review article summarizes and provides commentary on curcumin's therapeutic potential use in ophthalmology with principal focus on retinal dosorders.

Methods: Curcumin (diferuloylmethane) is a compound of the Indian spice turmeric (Curcuma longa) that has been found to be efficacious in preventing and treating a number of inflammatory diseases and neoplastic processes. Curcumin exerts anti-inflammatory, anti-tumor, antioxidant, and VEGF inhibition properties through modulation of numerous biochemical mediators. This makes curcumin particularly effective in retinal disorders.

Results: Curcumin has found a role in slowing, and in some cases even reversing, age-related macular degeneration, diabetic retinopathy, retinitis pigmentosa, proliferative vitreoretinopathy, and retinal cancers.

Conclusions: However, studies on curcumin's efficacy have been limited mostly to animal studies. Moreover, the biomedical potential of curcumin is not easy to use, given its low solubility and oral bioavailability-more attention therefore has been given to nanoparticles and liposomes.

Keywords: Anti-inflammatory drug; Anti-tumor drug; Antioxidant drug; Curcuma longa; Curcumin; Retinal diseases.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents, Non-Steroidal / therapeutic use
  • Curcumin / therapeutic use*
  • Humans
  • Retina / pathology*
  • Retinal Diseases / diagnosis
  • Retinal Diseases / drug therapy*
  • Treatment Outcome


  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents, Non-Steroidal
  • Curcumin