A depletion of taurine in the retina is a known cause of rapid degeneration of the essential photoreceptors in the eye. There is no commercial cure for AMD and other retinal diseases, although some treatments are available for the wet form of the disease. However, recent tests show taurine has been found to be essential for the survival of photoreceptors and studies show it can reverse retinal degeneration. Supplements of taurine are also recommended for those suffering from cortical senile cataracts and age-related macular degeneration to prevent a further loss of central vision.

What is Taurine?

Taurine is an important antioxidant and a natural non-essential amino acid which the body produces from methionine and cysteine. It stabilizes cell membranes, regulates the heartbeat, transports calcium around the body and regulates brain cell activity. It is also known to improve glucose tolerance and protect the heart and eyes.

Taurine is at its highest concentration in the retina and lack of it is known to cause retinal damage and deterioration of vision, which can be reversed by increasing taurine intake again.

Good dietary sources of taurine include eggs, dairy products, fish and red meat. As we age the need for taurine may exceed the natural intake so a supplement is recommended.

Taurine and Retinal Damage

Studies in 1975 showed a deficiency of taurine caused retinal degeneration in cats and this is now countered by the presence of taurine as a supplement in cat food. More up-to-date studies showed that when taurine was administered to adult rats suffering from retinal ganglion cell degeneration (RGC), after 6 days the survival rate of their retinal ganglion cells was significantly enhanced compared to control animals. The significance of this study showed that taurine-enriched nutrition can increase the survival rate of RGCs and positively reverse retinal degenerative disease such as AMD.

Taurine enhances the rods and cones within the retina which serve as visual receptors. With age, the macula area of the retina degenerates with the decline of rods and cones and this can ultimately cause loss of vision and blindness. It is even more common in those suffering from diabetes. The cure for humans, just as for cats is to increase taurine intake through diet and supplements. It may not guarantee you nine lives, but it will increase your quality of life by giving you the best possible vision as you age.