The medical community has seen a breakthrough as a new study suggests the cure to cataracts could be eye drops in the future. Researchers are constantly working on quicker, cost-efficient and beneficial ways to improve treatment or, even better, cures.
Doctor Kang Zhang of Sun Yat-sen University in Guangzhou has found one, and made a potential giant leap forward in curing cataracts, the number one cause for blindness for 50% of the population worldwide. A simple and painless treatment with eye drops could soon replace the costly surgeries now currently used as a fix vision impairment.
Through exmination of two patients, the researchers found that they shared a genetic mutation that will form into cataracts later on in life. It’s a condition that causes the proteins to clump in the eye, thus forming the “haziness” that patients describe as its typical effects.
What the two patients shared was lack of proper production of a molecule called lanosterol, a vital component that prevented the proteins from cluttering together and leading to cataracts. At the very least, its benefits remained a hunch until Zhang experimented on the cells and performed the test on dogs.
And he was right. Canines with naturally-occurring form of cataracts saw a significant improvement after only six weeks of treatment with eye drops laced with lanosterol. The cloudiness decreased and the size of the substance severely diminished. It gave hope that this common old-age caused condition might be harmlessly be cured.
Cataracts is fortunately one of the conditions that can be detected early on, such as when the patients are 50 years old. Before the patient describes symptoms of haziness in front of their eyes, doctors can easily diagnose it with a simple check.
Each year, there are 30,000 surgeries performed to reduce or cure cataracts only in the United States, and every day, there are between 50 and 60 people on the waiting list, idling and wishing for the chance to regain their sight. The operation implies cutting through the eye and extracting the fluid impairing vision. It’s both costly and, like any surgery, it has its own set of common risks.
The use of eye drops could become the favored method to reduce blindness, and so far there have been no downsides discovered. It’s pain-free, risk-free, would be cheaper and it might not even require the help of a medical professional to administer the drops.
However, researchers are taking their time. Before they undergo human trials, they mentioned that while lanosterol is a key substance that will cure cataracts, they might still find one that is even better and more efficient. Now they know better where to look.
Image source: gizmag.com