Those who suffer from cataracts have limited options available to them when it comes to restoring their sight. Over time, when the cataracts grow, they begin impeding everyday tasks. Patients find it difficult to read and drive and this leads to surgical removal of cataracts via laser or scalpel. However, new research has led to a less invasive solution that will soon become a reality.
This approach makes use of a molecule that is naturally occurring and can be administered by making use of a simple eye drop. Scientists suspected that lanosterol might have a role to play in the onset of cataracts. The suspicion arose after a research was carried out at China’s Sun Yat-Sen University where they stumbled across two children that had inherited cataracts and shared that same genetic mutation which affected the production of lanosterol adversely. This led the team of researchers to conclude that the molecule could be the key to preventing the cataract-forming proteins from clumping the eyes.
The team then carried out tests where dogs that were suffering naturally occurring cataracts were treated using eye drops with lanosterol. During the next 6 weeks of treatment, the team recorded a reduction is cloudiness and size of the cataracts.
The authors of the study said, “Our study identifies lanosterol as a key molecule in the prevention of lens protein aggregation and points to a novel strategy for cataract prevention and treatment.”
Cataracts are the leading cause of blindness and affect tens of millions of people from all over the world. They occur when a makeup of crystalline proteins, highly organized, in the lens of human eye is changed and results in the clustering of proteins. The research is still in its early stages, however, scientists are quite hopeful that they have managed to come up with means of preventing this process from taking place.