Cataracts could be treated with drugs rather than surgery, new research has indicated. Scientists say there was a ‘remarkable improvement’ in eyes treated with a compound proposed as an anti-cataract drug in advanced tests.
Cataracts are when the lens, the small transparent disc inside your eye, develops cloudy patches of protein, leading to vision loss and blindness for millions worldwide. In laboratory trials in mice, treatment with the oxysterol compound VP1-001 was shown to restore protein organisation of the lens, resulting in the lens being better able to focus.
This was supported by a reduction in clouding in 46% of cases. The research has been carried out by a team of international scientists led by Professor Barbara Pierscionek at Anglia Ruskin University, with the findings published in the journal Investigative Ophthalmology and Visual Science.
Professor Pierscionek, deputy dean in the university’s faculty of health, education, medicine and social care, said: “This study has shown the positive effects of a compound that had been proposed as an anti-cataract drug but never before tested on the optics of the lens. It is the first research of this kind in the world.
“It has shown that there is a remarkable difference and improvement in optics between eyes with the same type of cataract that were treated with the compound compared to those that were not. Improvements occurred in some types of cataract but not in all, indicating that this may be a treatment for specific cataracts.
“This suggests distinctions may need to be made between cataract types when developing anti-cataract medications. It is a significant step forward towards treating this extremely common condition with drugs rather than surgery.”