A cataract forms when proteins accumulate, malform and clump together. This is what causes the clouding over of the transparent lens of the eye resulting in blurred vision, halos at night, and having to reach for eyeglasses more often.
Ever since cataract treatment entered the modern era, research has continually ramped up to find the next big breakthrough. Although new discoveries can take years to become FDA approved, thanks to research, cataract treatment is a far cry from what it was even a few years ago.
In July 2015, University of California, San Diego researchers made a discovery that has gotten quite a bit of attention—an eye drop that, in animal testing, was effective in reversing cataracts. In short, the eye drop was shown to decrease those accumulated proteins that cause the eye’s lens to cloud over.
Researchers somewhat “happened upon” this discovery, setting out to study the cases of three children with severe cataracts, which ran in their family. A genetic mutation was identified that interfered with the production of lanosterol (a naturally occurring steroid). Before testing on animals, lab culture tests were performed. This proved positive enough to test treatment on rabbits with cataracts. Based on more positive results, researchers then applied lanosterol treatment to 7 dogs with adult-onset cataracts, which is common to humans as well as canines.
Each dog showed improvement, from notable to removal of the cataract altogether. Researchers hope to begin human trials within one year, according to Dr. Kang Zhang, professor of ophthalmology and chief of ophthalmic genetics at UC San Diego, one of the study’s authors.
The National Eye Institute estimates that by the age 80, more than half of our population either has a cataract or has had cataract surgery. Dr. Labor has performed thousands of successful cataract procedures, having been the first, or among the first in Dallas/Fort Worth to use the latest technologies and advancements.