Could grapes be the ‘magic bullet’ for cataracts?

November 21, 2016

By Jan Jarvis

Hongli Wu

 

Grapes are more than sweet treats in the eyes of one UNT Health Science Center researcher, who is studying how the fruit can prevent cataracts.

Whether they’re green, red or black, grapes appear to have significant health benefits, said Hongli Wu, PhD, Assistant Professor of Pharmaceutical Sciences and in the North Texas Eye Research Institute.

some grapesWith the help of a $30,000 grant from the California Table Grape Commission, Dr. Wu plans to show that grapes play a significant role in preserving eye health.

“I hope to prove that eating grapes could be the magic bullet in the fight against cataracts,” she said.

Cataracts affect more than 22 million Americans and are the leading cause of blindness worldwide. By age 80, more than half of adults in the United States will have a cataract or undergone surgery to remove one.

Dr. Wu made a connection between grapes and cataracts based on studies that show people living in the Mediterranean basin live longer, healthier lives than other populations. Their diet, which includes a lot of grapes and wine, has been shown to have numerous health benefits.

“They also have fewer cataracts than other aging populations,” Dr. Wu said. “This gives us a clue that grapes may have anti-cataract benefits.”

The research is conducted using a freeze-dried whole grape powder, designed to facilitate reproducible data and to provide researchers with a sample that is available year round.

For her research, Dr. Wu is focusing on cataracts caused by ultraviolet light, which has been shown to be a risk factor. Studies suggest that antioxidants protect the function of cells and that a decrease of antioxidants may be a factor in the decline of vision.

“Grapes boost the body’s antioxidant enzymes, which work to directly fight free radicals to maintain balance in the lens so that the eye is more resistant to aging,” she said. “My hypothesis is that grapes not only directly fight against free radicals, they also boost the self-defense system.”

Emanuel George 666 X 750
College of Pharmacy faculty member inspires greatness, one student at a time

Dr. Emanuel George, III, aka “DrEG3,” is on a mission to impact and serve 1 million people. He is well on his way, advocating for students, alumni and the greater pharmacy community. “I believe that I am a servant to all people,” Dr. George said. “I hope to help people become and li...Read more

Dec 2, 2021

Magdalena Bus and Bruce Budowle
Dr. Bruce Budowle named as UNT System Regents Professor

By Sally Crocker Over the years, Bruce Budowle, PhD, has been recognized in various ways for his lifelong dedication to uncovering mysteries, bringing long-sought answers to families and communities and developing novel ways to improve the science behind forensic medicine. After spending ...Read more

Dec 1, 2021

Dr. Nolan Kline, School of Public Health
This HSC faculty member is taking action to help address social problems

By Sally Crocker Nolan Kline, PhD, is the kind of person who can’t sit by when action is needed. A defining moment early in his college experience led Dr. Kline to a career in public health education, research and service, and as a new faculty member in the HSC School of Public Health, h...Read more

Nov 23, 2021

Dr. Christopher Hull, TCOM alum
The healing power of hats: How one TCOM alum brings smiles to faces with his unique collection

By Steven Bartolotta In 1998, Christopher Hull, DO and 1979 Texas College of Osteopathic Medicine alum, was wearing a signature hat from his vast collection, as he walked through a hospital hallway. A patient came up to him and asked if he was wearing a welder’s hat. “Yes,” said...Read more

Nov 22, 2021