According to the World Health Organization (WHO), approximately 1.3 billion people have some sort of distance or near vision impairment. The Fred Hollows Foundation says that 36 million people are blind, with more than half of those cases caused by cataracts.
Cataract is when the lens of the eye is clouded thus preventing clear vision. People are often born with cataracts, or can develop them after eye injuries or inflammation, but most cases of cataracts are due to ageing. Accounting for 51% of world blindness, cataracts remain the leading cause of vision loss.
WHO has said that people remain blind from cataracts in many developing countries because of the lack of access to eye care. As most communities live in poverty or lack the proper facilities for surgery, cataracts cases continue to rise.
Eye drops solution
But recently, a group of scientists have tested a solution on dogs and rabbits to dissolve the cataract out of the eye lens. For both animals, severe cataracts shrank away almost completely, if not entirely. This posits a breakthrough in eye care with specialized eye drops being an alternative to surgery.
The eye drop solution used in the experiments were lanosterol-based, and upon application to the eye lens (especially for the dogs) the researchers could see that the cataracts decreased. What remains unknown however is how lanosterol manages to disperse the mass of proteins.
“This is a really comprehensive and compelling paper – the strongest I’ve seen of its kind in a decade,” says Jonathan King, a molecular biologist at Massachusetts Institute of Technology who has been studying cataract proteins since 2000. King was not involved in the study.
One of the scientists who was involved is Ruben Abagyan, a molecular biologist at UC San Diego and one of the study’s co-authors. Abagyan looks forward to seeing how much more effective the lanesterol drops can be, “I think the natural next step is looking to translate it into humans. There’s nothing more exciting than that.”
Photos from Pixabay