According to the World Health Organization, cataracts are responsible for about 51 percent of blindness world wide. A cataract is a protein clump in the lens of the eye that blurs vision and most commonly develop with age or sometimes can be inherited.
Right now, the only way to treat cataracts is to remove the cloudy lens and replace it with a clear artificial lens by eye surgery. Recently, scientists have developed an alternative to surgery: eye drops. It will be a while before the drops are tested on humans but the formulated drops have reduced cataracts in dogs.
Ling Zhao of Sichuan University and some colleagues were looking into why children were born with cataracts. They found that some had a genetic mutation that would not allow them to make a molecule called lanosterol, which is found in the lens. The lanosterol was found to break up protein clumps that form cataracts. The scientists tested lanosterol eye drops on dogs with cataracts and noticed the drops cleared their lenses, and dissolved their cataracts over six weeks.
These results are very new and it is the first time anyone has tested lanosterol as a treatment for cataracts. If this research continues and shows positive results, there may not be cataract surgery any more.