Californian scientists made a discovery that lanosterol, a natural occurring steroid, can melt away cataracts when applied via eye drops. It can also prevent the cataracts from returning. The drops are still in experimental phase and, if approved for human use, they will present a non-invasive treatment for mild forms of cataracts.
The ability of lanosterol to block cataracts was noticed while observing two Chinese children with hereditary type of cataract. When closely examined, it was clear that they had the same mutation which was obstructing the production of lanosterol, as reported by Science Alert. This mutation skipped their parents, so they never developed this eye condition.
The science team concluded that lanosterol must be important for the formation of cataracts. In number of experiments, lanosterol was tested on live dogs and rabbits, as well as donated human lenses. All the results were the same, the steroid shrunk the size of the cataract.
This eye condition appears from build-up proteins on the lens, blocking the light from getting through the lens. It is usually a hereditary condition, but it can also develop from old age. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention states that cataract is the leading cause of vision loss in the United States as well as worldwide. The only way to treat cataract is to surgically remove the lens and replace it with artificial one.
The way lanosterol functions in preventing cataracts is still not clear enough. Researchers believe the steroid somehow prevents proteins to build up. Surgery for removing cataracts is very safe and easy, still the drops can be even easier alternative for everyone suffering from this eye condition. According to estimations, in 2050 there will be more than 50 million Americans afflicted by cataracts.
The remedy has not been tested on human subjects yet, but scientists are already excited. The molecular biologist from MIT, Jonathan King stated for Armitage that the study is no.1 on this subject until now.
As he explained “When the team discovered the phenomena, they continued with all the possible experiments, all with the same positive results- that`s as relevant as it could get in biology terms.”