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Research Letter
July 2013

Oral Glucosamine Supplements as a Possible Ocular Hypertensive Agent

Author Affiliations
  • 1University of New England College of Osteopathic Medicine, Biddeford, Maine
  • 2Associated Eyecare, Sanford, Maine
  • 3Department of Ophthalmology, University of Virginia, Charlottesville
JAMA Ophthalmol. 2013;131(7):955-957. doi:10.1001/jamaophthalmol.2013.227

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report that osteoarthritis affects 27 million adults in the United States. Glucosamine sulfate is a naturally occurring substance found in human cartilage and a precursor for glycosaminoglycans (GAGs). A combination of supplements, glucosamine and chondroitin sulfate, was shown in the Glucosamine/Chondroitin Arthritis Intervention Trial to aid moderate to severe osteoarthritic knee pain.1

Open-angle glaucoma affects more than 2 million individuals in the United States, and this number continues to increase owing to the rapid aging of the US population.2 Normal aqueous outflow of the eye is regulated by the content of GAGs.3 Researchers postulate that excessive deposits of GAG in the trabecular meshwork restrict outflow. Another theory suggests that increased release of GAG into the aqueous causes an osmotic effect, drawing more water into the anterior chamber, thus causing swelling, a decrease in pore size, and eventual increased resistance to outflow.3 Either of these proposed mechanisms could lead to an increased thickness of the pore lining and/or decreased outflow, resulting in increased intraocular pressure (IOP). Excessive glucosamine molecules may similarly elevate IOP.