Original Research

A review of the role of oxidative stress in the pathogenesis of eye diseases

O. A. Oduntan, K. P. Masige
African Vision and Eye Health | South African Optometrist: Vol 70, No 4 | a116 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/aveh.v70i4.116 | © 2011 O. A. Oduntan, K. P. Masige | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 11 December 2011 | Published: 11 December 2011

About the author(s)

O. A. Oduntan, BSc(Hons)Optom PhD, South Africa
K. P. Masige, BSc BOptom CAS MOptom, South Africa

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Free radicals, referred to as oxidants are molecules in the body with unpaired electrons, hence are unstable and ready to bond with other molecules with unpaired electrons.  They include Reactive Oxygen Species (ROS) such as superoxide anion radicals (·O¯), hydrogen peroxide (H202), and hydroxyl free radicals (·OH).  Endogenous sources of ROS include metabolic and other organic processes, while exogenous sources include ultraviolet radiation and environmental toxins such as smoke.  Antioxidants (oxidant scavengers) such as ascorbate, alpha-tocopherol and glutathione as well as various enzymatic compounds such as superoxide dismutase (SOD), catalase and glutathione reductase are also present in the body and in manyfoods or food supplements.  An imbalance between oxidants and antioxidants in favour of oxidantsis termed oxidative stress and can lead to cell or
tissue damage and aging. Oxidative stress has been implicated in the pathogenesis of many serious systemic diseases such as diabetes, cancer and neurological disorders.  Also, laboratory and
epidemiological studies have implicated oxidative stress in the pathogenesis of the majority of common serious eye diseases such as cataract, primary open angle glaucoma and age-related macular degeneration. In this article, we reviewed the current information on the roles of oxidative stress in the pathogenesis of various eye diseases and the probable roles of antioxidants.  Eye care practitioners will find this article useful as it provides information on the pathogenesis of common eye diseases. (S Afr Optom 2011 70(4) 182-190)


Oxidants; antioxidants; reactive oxygen species; oxidative stress; eye diseases.


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