Cataracts, known to be the leading cause of blindness in humans, may soon be cured via a simple eye drop. This is an amazing breakthrough, considering that the only option currently available is a high-risk and expensive surgery (note: the risk of surgery varies greatly based on medical training and ease of access). The new drug is based on lanosterol, a naturally-occurring steroid, which scientists believe stops defective crystallin proteins from clumping together and forming cataracts. The drug has so far been tested on a human lens as well as rabbits and dogs that suffer from the vision disorder. So far, it has shown success in terms of shrinking the cataracts significantly. Additional research may, one day, allow us to defect cataracts altogether.
While cataract treatment is, for a majority of individuals in Western nations, essentially a simple and safe surgical procedure, numerous non-Western nations do not have access to the funds and facilities required for safe procedures. As such, these drops serve as a cost-efficient and easily administered alternative option – one may help lower the incidence of cataract-induced blindness among humans. Researchers are now studying how the lanosterol-based eye drops can progress to human trials.