netbook
desktop
mobile
tablet-landscape
tablet
phone-landscape
phone
Research to Prevent Blindness

Eye Drops Could Clear Up Cataracts Using Newly Identified Chemical

Dogs develop age-related cataracts just like people.

RPB-supported researchers have partially reversed cataracts in dogs using eye drops and injections of a naturally occurring steroid in the human body. The discovery is pointing to an eye drop treatment for cataracts for people, and the impact will be global.

Cataracts are the leading cause of blindness worldwide, accounting for more than half of all cases. They most commonly occur over time, with age, when the transparent, tight protein structure of the human lens is disrupted, usually by protein aggregation caused by oxidative stress.

The National Eye Institute estimates that by age 80, more than half of all Americans either have a cataract or have had surgery to remove one.

The only treatment now available for cataracts is surgical removal of the natural lens and replacement with a plastic lens. While the surgery has very high success rates, in developed countries it contributes to higher healthcare costs. As populations age, estimates indicate that cataract surgeries will double in the next 20 years. Because cataract surgery emerges as an option later in life, delaying the development of the disease by as little as ten years might eliminate the need for nearly half of those surgeries.

Enter lanosterol, which the human body produces as a precursor to the creation of cholesterol. RPB-supported scientists identified a genetic mutation that interfered with the production of lanosterol in the cases of three children who had a severe, inherited cataract condition. In lab tests, lanosterol was shown to dissolve aggregated lens proteins.

"While we have yet to determine precisely how lanosterol is working, we are gratified that the treatment is working," said RPB resesarcher Dr. Kang Zhang, professor of ophthalmology and chief of ophthalmic genetics at UC San Diego.

Before testing can begin in humans, researchers will check the toxicity of lanosterol, then create an eye drop version of the drug, hopefully within a year.

Read the press release

 

 

Related News: Cataract, Top Story

Groundbreaking Gene Therapy for Retinal Disease

The first patient receives an FDA-approved gene therapy for inherited retinal disease at Mass. Eye and Ear.

Read More

 

RPB and AAO Award Grants for Big Data Research to Advance Patient Care

Award recipients to use IRIS Registry database to conduct population-based studies.

Read More

 

Research to Prevent Blindness Expands Grants Program

Many of the organization’s individual grants will now be open to researchers at any U.S. academic medical center.

Read More

 

Study Tests Stem Cell-based Therapy for Advanced Dry AMD

RPB-supported researchers at the University of Southern California Roski Eye Institute conducted the human trial.

Read More

 

The National Eye Institute Turns 50

RPB celebrates five decades of sight-saving discoveries at NEI.

Read More

 

Subscribe

Get our email updates filled with the latest news from our researchers about preventing vision loss, treating eye disease and even restoring sight. Unsubscribe at any time. Under our privacy policy, we'll never share your contact information with a third party.