Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) and glaucoma are ophthalmic neurodegenerative diseases responsible for irreversible vision loss in the world population. Only a few therapies can be used to slow down the progression of these diseases and there are no available treatment strategies for reversing the degeneration of the neural retina. In AMD, the pathological process causes the malfunction and damage of the retinal pigmented epithelium and photoreceptors in the macula. In glaucoma, damage of the retinal ganglion cells and their axons is observed and treatment strategies are limited to intraocular pressure lowering. Therefore, other prophylactic and/or therapeutic methods are needed. Oxidative stress is involved in the neurodegenerative process accompanying both AMD and glaucoma; therefore, the use of antioxidant agents would clearly be beneficial, which is supported by the decreased prevalence and progression of AMD in patients adherent to a diet naturally rich in antioxidants. Dietary antioxidants are easily available and their use is based on the natural route of administration. Many preclinical studies both in vitro and using animal models of retinal degeneration showed the efficacy of dietary antioxidants, which was further proved in clinical trials. Resveratrol is beneficial both in AMD and glaucoma animal models, but confirmed only among AMD patients. For AMD, carotenoids and omega-3 fatty acids were also proved to be sufficient in preventing neurodegeneration. For glaucoma, coenzyme Q10 and alpha-lipoic acid showed efficacy for decreasing retinal ganglion cell loss and inhibiting the accompanying destructive processes. Interestingly, the benefits of vitamins, especially vitamin E was not confirmed, neither in preclinical nor in clinical studies.
Keywords: age-related macular degeneration; antioxidants; carotenoids; glaucoma; resveratrol.