Currently, cataracts are the world’s leading cause of blindness and are seen often by the licensed physicians at Georgia Eye Physicians and Surgeons. While scientists have labored tirelessly for decades to configure the foundation of their formation, recent developments have been discovered that may lead to exact cause.
The powerful focusing ability in the human eye is credited to three kinds of crystallin proteins in their lenses. The intricate lenses of the eye maintain transparency by their ability to repel and attract light. While two types of crystallin are structural, the third keeps the other variations of crystallin from forming into cataracts if they are altered by genetic mutation, ultraviolet light or chemical damage,” states the study. “Understanding the molecular mechanism of what goes wrong in the eye that leads to a cataract could lead to the development of better treatment options, including more sophisticated artificial lenses and drugs,” stated a professor at UC Irvine, who conducted the cataract study published in the December 2013 issue of Structure.
The researchers identified the structures of the normal proteins and a genetic mutation known to cause cataracts in young children, finding that the third type of protein mentioned above binds far better to the mutated proteins. While this may seem to be a minute detail, it is the process which keeps the lens clear and cataract-free. Unfortunately, the human eye contains a limited number of these proteins, and once they are expended, researchers found that weakened ones quickly begin to accumulate and form blinding cataracts.
Researchers hope to use their findings to create sight-saving treatments that prevent the accumulation of cataract-causing crystallin proteins. By 2019, it is estimated that many more people over the age of 50 will be impacted by vision loss because of cataracts. At Georgia Eye Physicians and Surgeons, we are hopeful that this research will lead to bigger and better ways of saving eyesight. Board-certified ophthalmologist Dr. William Segal performs cataract surgery and lens replacement for patients experiencing cataracts, and recommends that patients undergo routine eye exams to regularly check for early signs of cataract formation.
If you are interested in a procedure or eye exam at Georgia Eye Physicians and Surgeons, please contact us today. Don’t forget to connect with us on Facebook, Twitter, and Google+ for eye news, updates, and specials.