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Question Your World: How Can We Cure Cataracts?

eye cataracts

Our eyes are our mind’s window to the world. Over time the body will naturally change the way our eyes function and sometimes genetics will do the same as well. Among the various conditions that involve the eye, cataracts is one that has received a lot of attention over the years. How can we cure cataracts? Listen to this Question Your World radio report produced by the Science Museum of Virginia to find out.

Sometimes in science seeing what’s not there is just as important as seeing what is. The notion of seeing and not seeing what’s in front of us is very fitting for this remarkable breakthrough in vision correctional procedures. Recently scientists took a big step forward in dealing with cataracts by seeing what was not present in their initial test subjects.

Our bodies are subject to all kinds of changes over time or due to environmental impacts. Our eyes are no exception. The cataracts happens when proteins clump together on the cornea. To further understand what causes this, scientists studied a pair of identical twins with congenital cataracts. After a thorough study they had put together the full genetic data on these two identical subjects. With that information they did a compare and contrast study with lots of other people, people that did not have congenital cataracts.

Here these researchers were able to see what was not there, what was different between the twins and the rest of the people. This is where they were able to see what was missing, specifically the gene that did not exist in the twins but did in the larger population they studied. This gene’s big function is to create an enzyme, lanosterol synthase, which is able to dissolve clumped proteins on the cornea. Without this enzyme the body’s genetic code does not have the direction or ability to dissolve specific proteins on the cornea which in turn causes the onset of cataracts long before the natural aging process does.

After observing the purpose and effects of lanosterol synthase these researchers were able to create a liquid solution of the enzyme and apply it to the cataracts influenced eyes of several animal test subjects. Eleven out of thirteen animals that were tested had positive results in using this enzyme rich solution on their corneas. Currently they are getting the paperwork and process ready for human testing, stay tuned as this story develops.

This awesome breakthrough in the medical world could impact the lives of millions of people around the world and is largely possible due to a team of scientists looking for what was not present in their initial test subjects. Once human testing is completed we'll have a better idea of how helpful this process is for those with this vision impairment. This could help millions of people around the globe better see the world around them and in some cases see what's not there as well.