Study Finds Cataracts Could Be Dissolved With Eye Drops

Posted on July 24, 2015

A new study has found that cataracts could be dissolved with eye drops. Scientists led by University of California (UC), San Diego, molecular biologist Ling Zhao have developed a solution that could dissolve cataracts. The solution was tested in rabbits and dogs with promising results. If the solution works for humans it could replace surgery, which is currently the only treatment method available for people with cataracts.

Science magazine reports that researchers developed an eye drop solution that contains lanosterol. The researchers found that lanosterol production is a key to cataract prevention. They discovered this after finding that children with a genetically inherited type of cataracts share a mutation that stops lanosterol production.

The lanestrol eye drops were tested in dogs and rabbits with cataracts. 11 of 13 rabbits went from severe or significant cataracts to mild or no cataracts. The test on the dogs with cataracts had similar results.

Ruben Abagyan, a molecular biologist at UC San Diego and co-author of the paper told Science magazine, "I think the natural next step is looking to translate it into humans. There's nothing more exciting than that."

A downside to the potential eye drop breakthrough is that even if it works for humans it may not help with all cataracts. Some cataracts not treated early can become much harder and more difficult to remove. UCLA ophthalmologist Joseph Horowitz tells PBS Newshour, "Not all cataracts are the same, and it is not a single disease." The Newshour story also says human trials are likely years away.

The research paper, "Lanosterol reverses protein aggregation in cataracts," is published here in the journal, Nature.

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