ISLAMABAD: Researchers in the US have developed a new drug that can be delivered directly into the eye via an eye dropper to shrink down and dissolve cataracts the leading cause of blindness in humans.
While the effects have yet to be tested on humans, the team from the University of California, San Diego hopes to replicate the findings in clinical trials and offer an alternative to the only treatment that’s currently available to cataract patients painful and often prohibitively expensive surgery, The guardian reported.
Affecting tens of millions of people worldwide, cataracts cause the lens of the eye to become progressively cloudy, and when left untreated, can lead to total blindness.
This occurs when the structure of the crystallin proteins that make up the lens in our eyes deteriorates, causing the damaged or disorganised proteins to clump and form a milky blue or brown layer. While cataracts cannot spread from one eye to the other, they can occur independently in both eyes.
Scientists aren’t entirely sure what causes cataracts, but most cases are related to age, with the US National Eye Institute reporting that by the age of 80, more than half of all Americans either have a cataract, or have had cataract surgery.
While unpleasant, the surgical procedure to remove a cataract is very simple and safe, but many communities in developing countries and regional areas do not have access to the money or facilities to perform it, which means blindness is inevitable for the vast majority of patients.
According to the Fred Hollows Foundation, an estimated 32.4 million people around the world today are blind, and 90 percent of them live in developing countries.