Iron homeostasis and eye disease

Allison Loh, Majda Hadziahmetovic, Joshua L. Dunaief

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

83 Scopus citations


Background: Iron is necessary for life, but excess iron can be toxic to tissues. Iron is thought to damage tissues primarily by generating oxygen free radicals through the Fenton reaction. Methods: We present an overview of the evidence supporting iron's potential contribution to a broad range of eye disease using an anatomical approach. Results: Iron can be visualized in the cornea as iron lines in the normal aging cornea as well as in diseases like keratoconus and pterygium. In the lens, we present the evidence for the role of oxidative damage in cataractogenesis. Also, we review the evidence that iron may play a role in the pathogenesis of the retinal disease age-related macular degeneration. Although currently there is no direct link between excess iron and development of optic neuropathies, ferrous iron's ability to form highly reactive oxygen species may play a role in optic nerve pathology. Lastly, we discuss recent advances in prevention and therapeutics for eye disease with antioxidants and iron chelators. General significance: Iron homeostasis is important for ocular health.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)637-649
Number of pages13
JournalBiochimica et Biophysica Acta - General Subjects
Issue number7
StatePublished - Jul 2009
Externally publishedYes


  • Chelator
  • Cornea
  • Iron
  • Lens
  • Oxidative stress
  • Retina

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biophysics
  • Biochemistry
  • Molecular Biology


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