Drops or Scalpel


By the age of eighty, half of people either have cataracts or had them surgically repaired. Soon eyedrops could replace surgery for one type of cataract.

It contains a drug called VP-1001 and it was able to restore the lenses of mouse eyes with cataracts. The lens is normally transparent from high concentrations of a family of proteins called crystalins. Because the cells of the lens make very few new proteins, the crystalin need to stay healthy for long periods.

However, over time, the lens can cloud because the crystalin proteins become disorganized, insoluble and form clumps that scatter light. This reduces the amount of light that makes it to the retina at the back of the eye.

Without proper light, the eye can no longer generate clear, sharp images so that it's like looking through a fogged-up window.

The drug being studied on mice is called oxysterol. It was tested on normal mice and mice with a mutation that leads them to develop cataracts early.

One drop of the drug was put into the right eyes of one group of mice while the left eye got a neutral compound. In mice with cataracts, the eyedrop improved their vision by sixty percent. It improved the focusing capacity of the eye as well as lens transparency.

But not all mice improved. It could be that some of the eyedrops were diluted by tears, washed out, or not absorbed evenly.

If this eyedrop became available, it would be especially helpful for people in less developed countries who don't have the option of surgery.

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More Information

Oxysterol Compounds in Mouse Mutant ?A- and ?B-Crystallin Lenses Can Improve the Optical Properties of the Lens
The crystallin family of proteins is essential for lens transparency, and altered short-range interactions of crystallins are thought to be responsible for cataract-associated light scattering...

Mayo Clinic Patient Health Information: Cataracts
A cataract is a clouding of the normally clear lens of the eye. For people who have cataracts, seeing through cloudy lenses is a bit like looking through a frosty or fogged-up window...

Science Direct Oxysterol Overview
Oxysterols can be defined as oxidized forms of cholesterol or of its precursors...

Mayo Clinic Patient Health Information: Cataract Surgery
Cataract surgery is a procedure to remove the lens of your eye and, in most cases, replace it with an artificial lens. Normally, the lens of your eye is clear. A cataract causes the lens to become cloudy, which eventually affects your vision...