American researchers have recently published a study in
the scientific journal Nature, showing promising results using steroid eye drops for shrinking down and dissolving cataracts.
At the moment cataracts is the leading cause of blindness, and can only be removed through surgery. The surgical procedure, while simple and safe, is unpleasant for the patient and often prohibitively expensive.
According to the Fred Hollows Foundation, approximately 32.4 million people around the world are blind, with more than half of the cases being caused by cataracts. In the United States alone, nearly 22 million Americans who are over age 40 have cataracts, according to the American Academy of Ophthalmology.
The real concern however, is that 90 percent of all the cataracts cases arise in developing countries. Given that many communities in developing countries and regional areas live in poverty, and lack proper facilities to perform cataracts surgery, treatment is often not even an option. Inevitably, many patients face blindness as a result.
The option of removing cataracts with eye drops instead of surgery would truly make an incredible difference.
“This is a really comprehensive and compelling paper – the strongest I’ve seen of its kind in a decade,” molecular biologist Jonathan King from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) told Armitage.
The treatment has yet to be tested on humans. The researches have so far only tested the effects on rabbits and dogs. In both cases, severe cataracts shrank away completely or almost completely.
The next step is to progress to human trials. If successful, the lives of millions of people across the world could change.
“I think the natural next step is looking to translate it into humans. There’s nothing more exciting than that.” Ruben Abagyan, who co-authored the paper, stated.