The Future is Coming
Within 5-10 years, scientists will hopefully create and design a non-surgical treatment for cataracts.
In 2015, exciting research was published in the journal, Nature, paving the way for the possibility of eyedrops to reduce cataracts in humans.
Dr. Kang Zhang, Professor of Ophthalmology and Chief of Ophthalmic genetics at University of California was one of many researchers responsible for the published research on the success of the drug, lanosterol reducing the cloudiness caused by cataract in dogs.
Genetics was the base for deciding to test lanosterol. Scientists studied the genes of 3 children who had significant hereditary cataracts. They identified a genetic mutation that interfered with the production of lanosterol, a steroid which occurs naturally in the body.
The university researchers first tested the new drug in lab cultures, then in the cataract lenses of rabbits, and finally on 7 dogs from 3 different breeds who were suffering from adult-onset cataracts.
Photo Credit LING ZHAO ET. AL./NATURE
What isn’t known from the dog participants is if there is subjective improvement in vision. They can’t tell us which is better, #1 or #2. The opacity is reduced, but if the lens does not have enough structure to aim light rays correctly, vision may not be distinct.
Research needs to be completed to formulate a safe, non-toxic, formula of lanosterol for testing in humans.
In 2015, The Ophthalmic Genetics and Visual Function Branch of the National Eye Institute’s, J. Fielding Hejtmancik emphasized the potential of the new eye drops in future eye care use for humans.
Companies are being formed to continue development and testing in various areas of eyedrops for cataract prevention.
We will keep our eyes peeled for future successes.