Preventing secondary cataract
by Fight For Sight
Scientists may have found a way to prevent complications from surgery to treat cataract, the world’s leading cause of blindness. The study was part-funded by eye research charity Fight for Sight and is published by a research team at the University of East Anglia (UEA) in the open access journal Scientific Reports.
It’s estimated that by the year 2020, 32 million people will need cataract surgery. Cataracts develop as we age, such that the eye’s lens turns from clear to cloudy.
Surgery works well to restore vision. Natural lens cells are removed from the inside of the lens, which leaves an outer casing called the ‘capsular bag’ that can house a clear, artificial lens. The capsular bag effectively ‘shrink-wraps’ the new lens and holds it in place.
However, a few natural lens cells always remain after surgery. In time the eye’s wound-healing response leads the cells to spread across the underside of the artificial lens. This interferes with vision, causing what’s known as ‘posterior capsule opacification’ or secondary cataract.
“Secondary visual loss responds well to treatment with laser surgery,” says Dr Michael Wormstone, from UEA’s School of Biological Sciences, who led the study. “But as life-expectancy increases, the problems of cataract and posterior capsule opacification will become even greater in terms of both patient well-being and economic burden. It’s essential that we find better ways to manage the condition in future.”
Newer artificial lenses are being designed to be placed into a capsular bag that stays open, instead of shrink-wrapping closed. The thinking is that if fluid in the eye (aqueous humour) can flow around the artificial lens, it will dilute and wash away the cell-signalling molecules that encourage re-growth.
In this study, the researchers took a 2-pronged approach, using human cells and tissue. They first tested the idea that diluting growth factor can prevent cells invading the posterior capsule. They also aimed to understand more about which growth factors drive the process with a view to developing a future drug treatment………
Source: Medical Express