Researchers have known for centuries that people with gout were more likely than those with healthy joints to develop eye diseases.
And they always thought it was because of high uric acid levels damaging the eyes.
But a new study in the journal Investigative Ophthalmology & Visual Science now reveals that uric acid is not to blame for gout-related blindness.
There’s another underlying factor. And thus, we may have a solution for both gout and blindness.
The team of Taiwanese researchers used information obtained from the Taiwanese biobank to investigate the relationship between gout and eye diseases, and find the contributing genes for both.
They obtained information for 65,076 people with an average age of 50 years.
They divided these people into four groups: 55,300 people with no gout and normal uric acid; 1,368 people had both high uric acid and gout; 7,618 people had high uric acid but no gout; and 790 people had gout but normal uric acid.
They discovered that both gout and high uric acid had an effect on eye diseases: people with either gout or high uric acid—or both—were more likely to have certain eye diseases than those with neither gout nor high uric acid.
But the research became interesting when they specifically compared those with normal uric acid together with gout to those with normal uric acid and no gout.
The first group had higher levels of eye disease than the second group. These included cataracts (14.75% versus 8.05%), dry eye (10.4% versus 7.46%), and myodesopsia (15.63% versus 10.17%). Myodesopsia is the medical term for dots, shadows, or lines floating through your field of vision.
This seems to suggest that gout affects your eyes more than just high uric acid does. In other words, whatever affect gout has on your eyes goes beyond high uric acid levels in your blood.
The authors did identify two gene mutations that were common in people with gout but normal uric acid, proving that genes play some role in gout.
The researchers speculated that inflammation may play a role, as well as the deposition of uric acid crystals in the eyes, although the contribution of gout is not well understood at this stage.
But this all comes down to the one fact that gout is actually not caused by high uric acid, but something completely unrelated. Therefore, the solution for both gout and eye diseases lies in tackling this true underlying cause of gout, explained here…