Vitamin D: Implications for Ocular Disease and Therapeutic Potential
Exp Eye Res. 2015 May; 134: 101–110., Published online 2015 Feb 25. doi: 10.1016/j.exer.2015.02.019
Rose Y. Reins and Alison M. McDermott
Vitamin D is a multifunctional hormone that is now known to play a significant role in a variety of biological functions in addition to its traditional role in regulating calcium homeostasis. There are a large number of studies demonstrating that adequate vitamin D levels are important in maintaining health and show that vitamin D is able to be utilized at local tissue sites. In the eye, we have increasing evidence of the association between disease and vitamin D. In this narrative review, we summarize recent findings on vitamin D and its relationship to various ocular pathologies and the therapeutic potential for some of these, as well as examine the basic science studies that demonstrate that vitamin D is biologically relevant in the eye.
Conclusion (snipped from PDF)
Vitamin D is a multifunctional hormone, which not only affects calcium homeostasis, but plays a role in immune system regulation as well as cell growth and survival. Many tissues in the eye are able to both activate and respond to vitamin D, suggesting that vitamin D is a biologically relevant molecule to study throughout the eye. Epidemiological studies demonstrate that vitamin D levels and genetic variations influence the development of a wide range of pathologies, such as
- age-related macular degeneration,
- diabetic retinopathy, and
In addition, at the cellular level, vitamin D is able to
- reduce inflammatory mediators,
- enhance barrier function, and
- induce cell death of cancerous cells.
These studies suggest that vitamin D plays a protective role in ocular health. It will therefore be exciting to follow further work, examining the benefits of vitamin D therapeutically in the eye.
PMCID: PMC4426046, NIHMSID: NIHMS669750
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