Let’s Review: N-Acetyl-Carnosine (NAC) Eye Drops in 2019
Were you ever the new kid in school? If so, then I’m sure you remember the desperate need to prove yourself to your peers. Your experience may have even involved a fair amount of criticism from the established “cool kids” in school.
Eventually things settle in. People get to know you, understand your quirks, and eventually, hopefully, you become accepted into the crowd, maybe even as one of the “cool kids”.
This process is very similar to the initiation of new ingredients into medical and natural health practices.
Enter: N-Acetyl-Carnosine (NAC).
A Quick Background on NAC Eye Drops
While Carnosine itself is a familiar amino acid compound with well-documented antioxidant properties, N-Acetyl-Carnosine (NAC) is a unique form of Carnosine with a very distinct intended usage.
Over the past decade and a half, NAC eye drops have become an increasingly popular product for resisting and reversing cataracts in both pets and humans. However, like any new kid on the block, NAC drops have been reasonably subjected to a great deal of skepticism from all corners of the health and wellness community.
So, on the one hand you have a desperate push to promote the product from those who have recently discovered it, and on the other hand you have skeptics who will thoroughly denounce the product solely because it is new and clinically unproven. Both sides have valid points to make, and neither side should be disregarded entirely, so where does this leave you?
Those who are seeking methods of dealing with cataracts without the use of laser eye surgery are faced with a difficult task of untangling the arguments of these two opposing sides. If you’re in this position and having a hard time painting a clear picture of NAC eye drops, then this review is for you!
An Even Quicker History of NAC Eye Drops
When it comes to forming a clear perspective on any highly opinionated subject, there is no tool more useful than history.
Thankfully, the history of N-Acetyl-Carnosine and NAC eye drops is a relatively brief one to review.
One of the earliest mentions of carnosine eye drops comes to us from the year 1997. A Russian article announced that the drops had been developed and approved by the Pharmacological Committee of the Ministry of Health and Medical Industry of the Russian Federation for medical use. The article also provides some details about a clinical study from this time involving 109 patients. (1)
The first point to drive home about this article is its sheer recency. As discussed in our last article, even a compound as obscure and “new age” as cannabidiol (CBD) was initially discovered and experimented with as far back as 1940. A very similar timeline applies to other ingredients like resveratrol and CoQ10 which have only recently become widely used in the supplement market.
The fact that NAC drops were only beginning to be developed in the year 1997 makes it easier to understand why clinical research has thus far been limited.
The Russian Connection
This is a very difficult subject to unpack within the confines of a health blog, but here are two important factors to consider:
On the one hand, Russia has long been a technologically advanced society which has produced some of the greatest minds and innovations of our era. In spite of a highly turbulent recent history (the Bolshevik revolution, World War II, the Cold War, etc.), Russia and the Soviet Union have been the 6th highest contributor of Nobel prize winners of any country in the world. (2)
However, this aforementioned turbulent history has, for better or worse, led some people to be less than trusting of information which originates from Russian governmental institutions. This is a shame for honest and qualified Russia scientists who may at times have to fight against some inherent skepticism when spreading the word about their research.
So now that we understand a bit of the history and context of NAC eye drops, there’s only one last piece of the puzzle: Dr. Mark Babizhayev.
The Research of Dr. Babizhayev
If you intend to do your own research into NAC eye drops, then you’ll quickly encounter the name “Babizhayev”. To this day, the vast majority of clinical research into the topic of NAC eye drops has been conducted by none other than, you guessed it, Dr. Mark Babizhayev. In fact, he is also the earliest patent holder for a particular formulation of NAC eye drops. (3)
A notable factor which complicates the status of current carnosine research are the financial interests which are inherent in Dr. Babizhayev’s research. This is due to his long-standing position as a founding member of Innovative Vision Products – a company which is heavily engaged in the commercial distribution of his patented NAC eye drop formulation.
It’s worth pointing out that this fact is not inherently scandalous. It’s common for patent holders to be heavily engaged in the research and commercialization of their own patents, particularly until others come around to review and validate their work.
In fact, the early history of other patented health products, NIAGEN® for example, shows a similar trend of the majority of research being published by one man, or one group of men within the same institution. (4,5) Now NIAGEN® is one of the most important products in the catalog of Chromadex – a massive, publicly traded dietary supplement corporation.
Additionally, third-party researchers have now moved-in to evaluate the veracity of early NIAGEN® research, providing consumers with a wider range of more nuanced information. (6)
By comparison, the issue that many people have with NAC is that, for almost a decade, there was no other research widely available on the subject besides Dr. Babizhayev’s. This meant that peer reviews on the effects of carnosine eye drops were practically non-existent, and much of his findings had to be taken for granted on faith alone. For many people, this amount of evidence will never be sufficient, regardless of the quality of the research, or the existence of competing financial interests.
Thankfully, the veil is finally starting to lift on NAC research as a number of third-party institutions have begun to review Dr. Babizhayev’s work, as well as contribute studies of their own.
Current Third-Party Research on NAC Eye Drops
The first article we’ll take a look at is a 2017 review conducted by researchers from Cochrane Eyes and Vision of the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine. The intention of the review was to evaluate the validity of N‐Acetyl-Carnosine eye drops as an effective treatment for the prevention/reversal of cataracts. For this purpose, they selected two of Dr. Babizhayev’s studies, one from 2002 and one from 2004.
Not too surprisingly, the review concluded that the evidence available was insufficient, but that “There is room for a well‐designed, randomized, placebo‐controlled trial evaluating the efficacy of L‐carnosine in the treatment of cataracts.”
In addition, the review states that “The subject of non‐surgical treatments for cataract remains topical and valid.”. (7) This vote of confidence from an organization as respected as Cochrane Eyes and Vision is a great sign for things to come in the field of carnosine eye drop research.
Next up is an in vitro study from 2018. In this study, injections of NAC were used to produce the most distinct effects on cataract formation. Due to the success of this administration method, future researchers may have to inquire further into the best methods for administering NAC to the eyes, specifically to discover how eye drops might be able to provide comparable results to a direct injection.
Regardless, the study reveals great promise in terms of NAC’s ability to fight cataracts when properly administered. (8)
Carnosine eye drops have a complex history and context within the global health and wellness community. However, as we’ve learned, many cutting-edge treatments have had to walk similar winding paths on their journey to mainstream acceptance.
Will NAC eye drops be a household item in a decade or two? Probably not, but stranger things have certainly happened! Just imagine telling people a few short decades ago that lasers could be used to remove their cataracts, and that this would be a common practice in the future… With enough research and innovation from credible medical institutions, who knows where these drops could be even just a few short years down the road.
We hope this article has helped you to get all caught up on the current research, and to form your own perspective on the topic of NAC eye drops. The truth is rarely clear in the modern world, so hopefully your eyes are!
Thank you for taking the time to read Let’s Review: N-Acetyl-Carnosine (NAC) Eye Drops in 2019
Please note: All information presented to you in this website is intended for your general knowledge only and is not a substitute for medical advice or treatment for specific medical conditions. We cannot, and will not give you medical advice. We strongly recommend you consult your physician for any and all specific health issues. If you have any questions or contributions, please contact us via email or phone-call. We are constantly looking for new information to promote wellness – and hearing from you would make our day.
- [Development of carnosine eyedrops and assessing their efficacy in corneal diseases].
- Top 30 Countries with Nobel Prize Winners
- Method for topical treatment of eye disease and composition and device for said treatment | Patent
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- N‐acetylcarnosine (NAC) drops for age‐related cataract
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