LSU researchers test ‘holy grail’ eye drop to prevent, treat cataracts without surgery

by Taboola 

BATON ROUGE — For many of the 24 million Americans diagnosed with cataracts, surgery is the only option to clear their cloudy vision.

In the next few years, an eye drop developed by researchers at the LSU AgCenter could prevent and treat cataracts.

“It doesn’t require injections,” said Cristina Sabliov, an LSU professor who led the research. “It’s not invasive. You just put a droplet in each eye.”

Over the past three years, Sabliov and assistant professor Carlos Astete have worked with researchers in Sabliov’s native Romania to develop the eye drop, which is a state-of-the-art nanoparticle designed to deliver the antioxidant lutein into the eye.

While tests on rats have been successful in reducing the size of cataracts over one week, the team expects further animal tests and human tests to take years before the eye drops can hit the market.

LSU’s researchers see the eye drops as a breakthrough for pets that develop cataracts and for patients in poorer countries, where cataracts are the leading cause of blindness, according to the World Health Organization.

For patients in the United States, cataract surgery has become a reliably safe outpatient procedure, said Jayne Weiss, chairwoman of the department of ophthalmology at the LSU Health Sciences Center in New Orleans. However, researchers have hoped for an eye drop to prevent the condition.

“A drop to prevent cataracts has been sort of the holy grail,” she said.

Cataracts form when the clear lens of the eye becomes cloudy, Weiss said.

Many cataracts are related to age, forming when patients reach 60 or 70, Weiss said. By the age of 80 or 90, most people have cloudiness in their eyes.

“For the most part, everybody gets an age-related cataract by that point,” she said.

Heredity, trauma and steroid drugs used to treat other illnesses can also cause serious cataracts. Warm countries like India and higher altitude areas of Nepal have more cases of cataracts than other countries because ultraviolet sunlight exposure encourages cloudy lenses, Weiss said.

“It’s linked to about half of the world’s cases of blindness,” Weiss said. “Right now, the only way that we can get rid of the cataract is surgery.”………..

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Source: Daily Comet