Eye drop that dissolves cataracts

A lanosterol-based formula delivered directly into the eye via an eyedropper has the potential to change the treatment of cataracts.

American scientists discovered the effectiveness of the naturally occurring steroid after they investigated two children in China who had inherited a congenital form of cataract, which had never affected their parents.

They found that the siblings shared a mutation that stopped the production of lanosterol.

They hypothesised that if the parents were producing lanosterol and didn’t get cataracts, but their children weren’t producing lanosterol and did get cataracts, then applying the steroid might stop defective crystallin proteins from clumping together and forming cataracts.

Their findings have been published in Nature.

Commenting on the study, molecular biologist Dr Jonathan King from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology told Science Mag, that this is “as biologically relevant as you can get”.

“This is a really comprehensive and compelling paper, the strongest I’ve seen of its kind in a decade,” says Dr King, who has been involved in cataract research for the past 15 years.