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Rodent of the Week: Green tea and good vision

February 19, 2010 |  1:05 pm

Rodent The substances found in green tea -- called catechins -- are associated with a number of health benefits, such as improved cardiovascular health. The substances are antioxidants that are thought to protect various body tissues from damage. It has been unclear, however, whether catechins migrate to all parts of the body, including the eyes.

A new study in mice shows that they do. Researchers in Hong Kong gave rats green tea extract. The rats were then killed, and their eyes dissected into cornea, lens, retina and other parts. The extract was found in these tissues at various levels. The retina absorbed the highest levels of the catechins.

This means green tea could yield benefits in protecting against certain eye diseases, such as glaucoma. Other antioxidant substances, such as vitamins C and E, lutein and zeaxanthin are also know to reach eye tissue. It's unclear just how much green tea might be needed to bolster eye health in humans. A typical cup of green tea has about 150 to 250 milligrams of catechins.

The study was published this week in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry.

-- Shari Roan

Photo credit: Advanced Cell Technology Inc.