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Company developing eye drops that could clear cataracts

A new eye drop formula may make cataract surgery a thing of the past. A chemical solution has been developed to clear cataracts.

By Rakesh Ahuja, MD (Own work) [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html), CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/) or CC BY-SA 2.5-2.0-1.0

Clearing cataracts, even when it is possible, requires an expensive surgery. Now, however, a company is working to develop eye drops that could potentially clear cataracts, no surger required.

Cataract surgery has emerged as a major concern, especially in developing countries where poorer individuals often lack access to cataract surgery. The World Health Organization estimates that approximately 20 million people worldwide are affected by cataracts at any given time.

The chemical has already proven effective on mice in labs, and early tests with human tissue has been promising as well. Now, researchers will be working to get it approved for human use.

Importantly, the chemical is soluble enough to be turned into an eye drop without losing its effectiveness at clearing cataracts. Such an eye drop has been referred to as a “holy grail” among ophthalmologist- AKA eye doctors.

Cataracts are caused by the misfolding and clumping of proteins, called crystallins, in the eye. As these proteins clump together, the eye becomes cloud, and vision is blocked.

Cataract surgery involves the removal of the naturally occurring eye lense, and its replacement with a synthetic lense. Besides being expensive and hard to perform, such surgery also results in numerous potential complications, such as inflammation and swelling of various parts of the eye.

Cataracts often inflict both the young, and the elderly, which makes the condition even harder to treat. Easy to use eye drops, however, could make treatment exceptionally easy.

Cataracts reduce vision, and if they become bad enough, they can actually blind a person. In fact, half of all blindness is caused by cataracts. While surgery can help, it is financially out of reach for many people.

Cataracts are often caused by overexposure to light. One way to prevent them from forming is to wear sunglasses.