A new and exciting discovery in medical science has recently been made by researchers from the United States. Apparently, these scientists have created a new cure for cataracts – the leading cause of vision loss for humans.
This new drug applied via an eye dropper is yet to be tested on people. If proven effective, however, the research team from the University of California in San Diego is optimistic that this can be a great alternative for surgery, the only current available treatment for cataract patients.
Cataracts trigger the eye lens wherein it becomes cloudy and it can eventually lead to blindness when left untreated. The condition occurs when crystalline proteins in the lens are weakened. Although cataracts can not spread out from one eye to another, patients can have cataracts in both eyes.
Although science hasn’t pinpointed the causes of cataracts, most of the cases can be attributed to the age factor. In fact, the United States National Eye Institue reported that among Americans 80 years old and above, many of them either had cataract or have had cataract surgery.
Cataracts surgery itself is relatively simple and safe but for numerous patients in developing countries, the treatment may either be too expensive or they may lack available resources for it.
Fred Hollows Structure estimated that globally, about 32.4 million people are blind today and a huge percentage of them are living in developing nations. Additionally, more than half of the cases are caused by cataracts.
If this new cataract-melting eyedrop proves to be a success, it will definitely make a big difference.
The drug is based on lanosterol, a naturally-occurring steroid. The researchers were inspired to create the cure after hearing about two Chinese children who have acquired cataracts even when their parents actually never had the eye problem. It was later discovered that the siblings suffered from the lack of lanosterol production.
The scientists eventually tested the breakthrough eye drop with human lens in a laboratory and noticed a significant reduction in cataract size. After testing the cure, 2 out of 13 test subjects had minimal to zero cataracts. The drug was also tested on pets which led to favorable results.
Although not involved in the research, molecular biologist Jonathan King from the Massachusetts Institute of Innovation (MIT) said “This is a really extensive and engaging paper – the strongest I’ve seen of its kind in years… They discovered the phenomena and after that followed with all of the experiments that you should do – that’s as biologically relevant as you can get.”
It is expected that the drug will soon be tested on human patients.