Researchers are always looking for methods that could prevent people from getting cataracts. They have recently found a molecular mechanism that could lead to this eye disease. An associate professor from UC Irving, Rachel Martin, has been studying the molecular mechanism process that could lead to the emergence of cataract. New findings may lead to better treatments, such as more effective drugs and more sophisticated artificial lenses. Our eyes could focus accurately due to the presence of three different crystalline proteins in the lenses. To maintain transparency, they balance the act of attracting and repelling light.
The first two crystalline have structural functions and the third one is called “chaperone”. It keeps the other two from clumping and forming cataracts caused by chemical damage, ultraviolet light and genetic mutation. The team from UC Irvine has identified the structures after painstakingly explored all the possibilities.
They discovered that the chaperone protein binds mutated proteins more strongly as a way to maintain the clarity of the lens. Unfortunately, our eyes have a finite amount of the beneficial proteins and if they used up, other proteins may begin to aggregate and cause cataracts.
Increasing age is one common cause of cataracts and it causes the eye lens to turn cloudy and harden. There are other causes of cataracts although less common, such as diabetes, radiations, infections and injuries. There are infants who born with cataracts in their eyes. Symptoms of cataracts should be quite obvious, including sensitivity to glare, image distortion, double vision and blurred vision. Those suffering from cataracts may also need to change their glasses far more frequently. There are no scientifically proven cures to dissolve or reduce cataracts; and surgical removal is currently the only option. It’s important to consider a surgery as soon as the condition begins to interfere with our lifestyle.
Cataract surgery or phacoemulsification takes only about 20 minutes and requires minimal sedation. The clouded lens is dissolved, sucked out and replaced with artificial lens. The procedure is almost painless and very simple. It’s an effective and safe way to restore vision without any complication. Often patients are allowed to return home after the procedure is completed. Unfortunately the surgery can be very expensive and there are always chances of complications. Like any surgery, patients may experience blood loss and the eye can be infected. A second surgery may be needed if fragments of cataracts are left behind. Some patients could have abnormal reactions to anesthetics such as itchiness and soreness.