May 26, 2024

Scientists Have Developed Eye Drops To Dissolve Cataracts

Cataract in Human Eye. Image credit: Rakesh Ahuja, MD, Creative commons

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By News Desk, Neucrad Health India June 8, 2019

Research teams of the University of California, San Francisco, the University of Michigan, and Washington University in St. Louis in a collaborative effort have developed an innovative eye drop which can dissolve cataracts. They have published their findings at the prestigious ‘Nature’ journal, and researchers all over the world have applauded their efforts.  It is a revolutionary development in Optical Science as cataract is the leading cause of blindness among the aged people across the globe.

What is Cataract?

A cataract is a medical condition where individuals develop clouding of the clear lens of eyes. Patients experience frosty or fogged-up vision. They find it difficult to read newspapers, drive cars at night, and read the expression of others’ face. There are four types of cataracts- nuclear cataracts, cortical cataracts, posterior subcapsular cataracts, and congenital cataracts. Though the use of high-powered glasses can help in improving the vision at the beginning, in the long run, cataract can damage human vision to a sufficient extent.

Symptoms of Cataract

Detailed below are the common symptoms of cataract.

  •        Blurry vision
  •        Difficulty in viewing objects at night
  •        Requiring bright light for reading newspaper and books
  •        Viewing halo around lights
  •        Double vision
  •        Headache and eye pain

How critical is the problem associated with blindness due to Cataract?

According to reports published by Fred Hollows Foundation, 32.4 million individuals all over the world have become blind due to cataract. American Academy of Ophthalmology has recently published a report that 22 million people above the age of 40 in the United States have viewing issues due to cataract. However, 90 per cent of the cataract problem occurs in developing countries where poverty and lack of infrastructure make it challenging to find the correct treatment for this medical issue. In such a scenario, this revolutionary eye drop will save millions of people from going through the expensive and invasive eye surgery for treating cataracts.

What is the function of the new Cataract treating eye drops?

This new eye drop can shrink down and dissolve cataracts leading to improvement in vision. It is made up of a naturally-occurring steroid called lanosterol. The effectiveness of this natural steroid compound came to light when two children in China developed congenital cataract while their parents never faced such issues. It was because their parents produced lanosterol preventing the occurrence of cataract, while the children could not develop this compound due to a mutation and hence suffered from this congenital eye problem. After studying this case in detail, scientists concluded that lanosterol stops the defective crystallin proteins from sticking together and forming a cataract. This steroid can also treat non-congenital cataract.

How did the scientists test the effectiveness of the Lanosterol eye drop?

Scientists tested the new lanosterol-based eye drop in three different experimental settings. At first, they introduced this drop on the human lens and documented a notable decrease in cataract size. Then the researchers tested this solution on rabbits, and after six days of the experiment, all but two of those animals experienced visibly decrease in cataracts. Some of them even manifested no cataracts at all. After these two experimental setups, scientists introduced the newly developed eye drop in dogs’ eyes. They also responded positively to the study. So, scientists are now quite sure that lanosterol-based eye drop would come up with effective results in the clinical trial as well. Right now, the next job of scientists would be to find out the working mechanism lanosterol-based eye drops on the cataract proteins.

This was a brief synopsis of the functioning of the latest lanosterol-based eye drop in treating cataract in human beings. Stay tuned to learn about most recent discoveries in Medical Science on this portal.