An image of the human eye, showing the location of the lens, where clumps of proteins can form to cause cataracts. (Credits: Johannes Ahlmann, Creative Commons)

An article titled “Eye Drops Could Dissolve Cataracts” described new research findings that eye drops containing a biomolecule, called lanosterol, could be a new treatment for cataracts. Cataracts create cloudy vision due to clumps of proteins that form on the lens inside of the eye. The article reported that the eye drops not only dissolved the clumps in lens cells in the lab, but that the treatment dissolved the clumps in rabbit and dog eyes.

There are several discrepancies between the article and the actual research report. In the report, the scientists identified lanosterol as a molecule that disrupts the clumps involved in cataracts. They treated lenses they dissected from cataractous rabbit eyes by covering them in a lanosterol solution; they did not treat rabbits directly with eye drops. Additionally, they injected lanosterol into the eye cavities of dogs with cataracts, then treated them with eye drops containing lanosterol for six weeks. In both cases, the cataracts subsided, but in neither case did they show that eye drops by themselves could treat cataracts in live eyes.

Cataracts can be caused by different factors, including low levels of lanosterol in the eye, but also ultraviolet light, eye trauma, and aging. Therefore, lanosterol may not treat all causes of cataracts. Whether lanosterol would need to be used throughout one’s life is unknown, and the long-term consequences are uncertain. Lastly, lanosterol treatment has been suggested as an alternative to cataract surgery. However, cataract surgery also corrects changes in vision, such as nearsightedness, which can worsen with cataracts. There is little evidence to suggest that lanosterol will treat such vision changes. The benefits of cataract surgery versus lanosterol treatment will have to be weighed carefully to determine if lanosterol is a good alternative.

Managing correspondent: Emily Low

Acknowledgments: Special thanks to Dr. Jessica Low Chen, M.D., Ophthalmologist and Cataract Surgeon, for expert advice on cataract formation and treatments.

Original article: ScienceMag

Original research report: Cell

7 thoughts on “Can Cataracts Be Cured With a Simple Eye Drop?

  1. My wife is blind in one eye, and has a cataract developing quickly in the other eye, so her vision is blurred. The doctors are reluctant to carry out an operation to remove the cataract from her good eye because of the risk of her losing her sight altogether.
    Lanosterol could be a useful alternative in her case, but treatment with this for humans appears not to be available as yet.

  2. Thanks for pointing out that cataracts create cloudy vision. More specifically you said that this is due to clumps of protein that form on the lens inside of the eye. I think it’s important to choose a cataracts treatment that is close to your work so that you can easily get appointments for re-checks.

  3. I am 40 and i have cataracts in the right eye.my vision in this yey is 60%.is there sny medicine to cure this beside surgery.if yes please let me know the name of medicine.than you

    1. When more and more people are found with glasses these days including little kids, research to cure cataract by eye drops needs to be given top most priority. Recent introduction of blue light filters in computer screens and mobile phones all tell us that eye vision strain or whatever caused by these unavoidable day to day devices need to be carefully researched with high priority for a remedy.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *