Vegetable chemical compound could hold key to preventing progression of eye disease

This is an archived article and the information in the article may be outdated. Please look at the time stamp on the story to see when it was last updated.

OKLAHOMA CITY - A $2.25 million grant will go toward studying a chemical compound that's found in broccoli and cabbage to see how it effects people as they age when it comes to vision loss.

Blurry faces, dark surroundings and distorted images are just some of the symptoms of Macular degeneration.

It's the leading cause of vision loss among people over 49, according to the National Eye Institute.

It's also irreversible.

"Aging is the biggest factor. Smoking is a risk factor. Obesity is a big risk factor. And, actually, the easiest thing people can do is to make sure when they are outside always wear sunglasses,” said Oklahoma Medical Research Foundation (OMRF) researcher Dr. Scott Plafker.

Now, with the help of a four-year grant by the National Eye Institute, OMRF will study "sulforaphane" to see if it will protect the eye against age-related Macular degeneration.

"It was discovered in 1992, and it has been studied for a variety of functions and diseases and it's in many clinical trials right now,” Dr. Plafker.

It's in testing for everything from schizophrenia to emphysema.

But two years ago, they also found that the compound can help elderly people.

"The hope is that when you consume compounds like this, that you can kind of make yourselves function as if they're young cells rather than being old cells,” Dr. Plafker said.

They will also see if this chemical compound can protect cells in the eye, preventing the disease from progressing.

"People can go to the grocery store and buy these vegetables, that most of us grew up eating these things, and then potentially give them a leg up when it comes to preventing this disease," Dr. Plafker said.

OMRF researchers are studying it in mouse food right now, but eventually this known cancer-fighting chemical found in veggies could be tested on humans.

Click here for more information.