Eating too much monosodium glutamate, which is used in many Chinese foods and processed foods, could make you go blind. Researchers at Hirosaki University in Japan found that rats fed on diets high in MSG have vision loss and thinner retinas.

MSG binds to receptors on retinal cells, destroying them and reducing the ability of the remaining cells to relay electrical signals to the brain. Researcher Hiroshi Ohguro says large amounts of MSG were used, up to 20% of the total diet in the group with the most eye damage. “Lesser amounts should be OK,” he says. “But the precise borderline amount is still unknown.”

His results may might explain why there?s a high rate of glaucoma in eastern Asia, of the type that leads to blindness without the usual increase in eyeball pressure. Glaucoma specialist Peng Tee Khaw says the amounts of MSG in the tests were “a lot, lot higher than you’d eat.? But lower amounts could produce the same effects over several decades, which may be why people rarely develop glaucoma until they?re in their forties.

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