Cataracts are the leading cause of vision loss in the United States and are the leading cause of blindness in the world. Every year, 3 million Americans undergo cataract surgery to remove a deteriorated lens that clouds their vision. Cataract surgery is one of the safest, most successful surgeries available, but it still requires an incision. What if you could have a cataract removed without ever going under the knife?
This wish may soon become a reality because a team of U.S. scientists from University of California San Francisco have discovered a specific chemical that can be used in eye drops that will reverse cataracts. The team found a way to dissolve a steroid-based drug known as “compound 29” which may prevent the clumping together of proteins. These proteins, called crystallins, help maintain the transparency and flexibility of fibre cells.
If compound 29 eye drops can help maintain the integrity of the crystallins, the eye muscle could remain flexible and be able to focus on objects at various distances. This could result in an efficient, effective method of cataract treatment that may prevent patients from having surgery.
The researchers tested many different combinations of compounds by heating the clumped proteins that cause cataracts. Using a special method called high-throughput differential scanning flourimetry (HT-DSF), a light was emitted when proteins reached a melting point.
The new eye drop has been tested on mice that were at high risk for cataracts. The results were positive: the drops partially restored transparency to the lens of the eye that was affected by cataracts (Source: Optician).