Researchers at the Chinese University in Hong Kong discovered that drinking green tea could protect against common eye diseases such as glaucoma.
Recently published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, Chi Pui Pang and colleagues gave laboratory rats green tea extract and then analyzed their eye tissue. The researchers found that different parts of the eye absorbed varying amounts of catechins, antioxidants which are believed to prevent damage caused by oxidation. The retina, the part of the eye responsible for sensing light, had the highest concentration of the antioxidants, while the least amount was found in the cornea, the clear outer layer of the eye. The antioxidant activity lasted for up to 20 hours after consumption of green tea extract. “Our results indicate that green tea consumption could benefit the eye against oxidative stress,” the authors concluded. Oxidative stress leads to retinal diseases like glaucoma and age-related macular degeneration (AMD).
Green tea is the least processed of all tea’s. Because of green tea’s minimal processing, its catechins, especially epigallocatechin-3-gallate (EGCG), which is believed to be responsible for most of the health benefits linked to green tea, are more concentrated. It wasn’t known until now, however, if the catechins were able to make their way from the mouth, through the gastrointestinal system, and be absorbed into the tissues of the eye.