Scientists in California are investigating a natural steroid called lanosterol that could one day be used to treat cataracts . Perhaps one day it will be possible to simply use lanosterol as topical eye drops to reduce the development of cataracts. The cost of lanosterol drops will be much less than the cost of cataract surgery. Patients, insurance companies, and government health agencies spend millions of dollars paying ophthalmologists and opticians for cataract surgery. Lanosterol eye drops have the potential to be a safe and non-invasive alternative to cataract surgery in patients with mild forms of cataracts.
What is a cataract?
Cataracts are opacity or loss of transparency in the natural lens of the eye. The human lens is made up of crystalline proteins. At a young and healthy age, these proteins retain the transparency of the lens. Cataracts develop because these proteins break down, stick, and break down with age. Cataracts affect vision and cause images to appear blurry, blurry, or fuzzy, as if viewed through a foggy window. Cataracts are the leading cause of blindness among people over 55 years of age. The gradual development of cataracts occurs as part of the normal aging process and it is rare to find a complete absence of cataracts in older adults.
In some people, cataracts can develop more severely or prematurely. Certain medications, such as the steroid prednisone , can cause cataracts. Cataracts can also be caused by other types of eye surgery, such as surgery on the retina. Diseases like diabetes can cause cataracts to develop at a much earlier age. Habits like smoking can cause more serious cataracts than nonsmokers. Also , babies can be born with congenital cataracts.
Cataracts are usually treated with surgery . Cataract surgery involves removing the cataract and replacing it with a new clear lens implant. The procedure is usually performed under local anesthesia on an outpatient basis and in most cases takes less than an hour. During cataract surgery, an ophthalmologist removes the cataract using ultrasound or laser and inserts a new intraocular lens implant. Recovery from cataract surgery usually takes about 8 weeks. During this recovery period, you will need to return to your surgeon for a series of follow-up visits. At subsequent visits, your healthcare professional will check your eyes for possible infection and make sure your eyes are healing properly.
Eye drops for the treatment of cataracts.
Scientists discovered lanosterol's ability to reduce cataracts by studying two children who had an inherited condition in which they developed cataracts at a young age. These children had a genetic mutation in which their bodies blocked the production of lanosterol. Interestingly , his parents did not have this mutation and never developed cataracts. The scientist suggested that lanosterol keeps a person's lens clean by stopping the degradation and adhesion of normally clear proteins on the lens .
The scientist first tested his theory on human lens cells. Studies have shown that when lanosterol was applied to cells, the lens proteins stopped sticking and transparency increased. They then studied rabbits with cataracts . After administering lanosterol for six days, 85% of the rabbits experienced a significant reduction in the severity of cataracts. Cataracts have also been investigated in dogs. The black labrador retriever, the Queensland healer, and the miniature pinscher, all dogs with significant natural cataracts, reacted in the same way as rabbits.
Lanosterol was able to significantly reduce the size of cataracts and improve lens clarity. Scientists caution that more research is needed before the drops are considered a reliable and viable treatment for cataracts in humans. However, this could be a very exciting discovery. Since cataracts are a condition that will likely affect almost all of us, we are likely to hear more about lanosterol soon.
Treating cataracts with eye drops instead of surgery to remove them is certainly possible in the future. Scientists are working hard to demonstrate the benefits of using lanosterol as a non-invasive alternative to cataract surgery. Reducing the development of cataracts with steroid eye drops may soon be a treatment for moderate cataracts.