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Eye Health: New eye drops show promise, offer hope for people who have cataracts

By Dr. Dawn Stratton
KyForward columnist

One more reason to be thankful this holiday season: New research shows promise for people who have cataracts. A team of researchers from the University of Michigan and University of California, San Francisco has helped discover a new eye drop that could cure cataracts.

Magnified view of a cataract seen on examination with a slit lamp (Wikimedia Commons photo)

Magnified view of a cataract seen on examination with a slit lamp (Wikimedia Commons photo)

According to the National Institutes of Health, cataracts are the leading cause of blindness in the world and affect more than 22 million Americans. The current method of treating cataracts is surgery.

Research conducted at the University of Michigan’s Center for Chemical Genomics points to a chemical that can reverse the onset of cataracts. The molecule is called compound 29 and belongs to a family of chemicals called sterols. Jason Gestwicki, co-senior author of the study, said the first step in creating the chemical was to decide how to differentiate the diseased crystallin proteins from the healthy ones. Through observation and testing, the team of researchers was able to find key differences between their melting points.

“We screened through thousands of small molecules,” Gestwicki said. “We found that compound 29 had the best ability to dissolve the cataract-like form.”

The testing is being done on mice. Gestwicki said he hopes that, in a few years, they can try the solution in humans. Other neurodegenerative diseases, such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s, are similarly caused by a mis-folding of specific proteins. Gestwicki said cures to these diseases could be approached in the same way the researchers in his team approached cataracts.

Source: www.michigandaily.com

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Dr. Dawn Stratton is the founder of Stratton Eyes. She is a graduate of Illinois College of Optometry in Chicago and earned her Doctor of Optometry in 1994. Based in Lexington, Dr. Stratton is a member of American Optometric Association, the Kentucky Optometric Association, the National Association of Professional Women and the Fellowship of Christian Optometrists. She also provides eye exams for patients at the Hope Center, Room at the Inn and The Nest. Visit Stratton-Eyes.com for more information or call 859-245-2020 or email office@strattoneyes.com. You can also find the office on Facebook and on Twitter @StrattonEyes.

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