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An Eye Drop Has Been Developed To Dissolve Cataracts

An Eye Drop Has Been Developed To Dissolve Cataracts

A new study conducted by researchers in the US has found that a new drug that can be delivered directly into the eye via an eye dropper can shrink down and, in some cases, even dissolve cataracts. Cataracts are the leading cause of blindness affecting tens of millions of people. To date the only way to treat them is painful and often expensive surgery. The eye drops have yet to be tested on humans, but this is to be the next stage of the study.

Jonathan King, a molecular biologist at Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge not affiliated with the study said that “This is a really comprehensive and compelling paper—the strongest I’ve seen of its kind in a decade”. King has been investigating cataract proteins since 2000.

What are cataracts?

The major component of the fiber cells that form the eyes’ lenses are crystallins. Unfortunately, the unique properties of these cells mean that they are prone and susceptible to damage, explains Jason Gestwicki associate professor of pharmaceutical chemistry at UCSF.

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“Shortly after you’re born, all the fiber cells in the eye lose the ability to make new proteins, or to discard old proteins,” said  Gestwicki, “So the crystallins you have in your eye as an adult are the same as those you’re born with.”

These crystallins must maintain the flexibility and transparency of fiber cells if our lenses are to function properly. Proteins known as chaperones keep the crystallins soluble.

Keeping the crystallins healthy is tricky as clumped-together pathological configurations of crystallins are more stable than healthy forms of crystallins. Thus the fiber-cell chaperones need to resist the tendency of crystallins to clump. The clumped-together proteins are called amyloids. These amyloids make it harder for light to pass through the lens creating the cloudiness cataract is known for.

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Scientists do not know exactly what causes cataracts but the majority of cases are age related. The US National Eye Institute reports more than half of all American have a cataract or have had cataract surgery by the age of 80. https://nei.nih.gov/health/cataract/cataract_facts

Cataracts and blindness; a global problem.

A  study that conducted surveys in 39 countries found that globally the number of people who are visually impaired is estimated to be 285 million. Of this figure 39 million are blind (with uncertainties of 10-20%). 33% of the cases of visual impairment were caused by cataracts, while cataracts were the first cause of blindness; making up 51% of all blindness cases. The study indicates that visual impairment, in particular cataracts, is a major health concern.

Most of the people who suffer from blindness live in developing countries. Over half of these people are blind as a result of cataracts. Given that the money and facilities needed to perform a surgical procedure to remove a cataract is not available in many developing countries, having an eye drop as an alternative to surgery could make a tremendous difference.

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The story that sparked the research.

The new eye drops are based on a naturally-occurring steroid called lanosterol. Researches decided to explore the possibility of using lanosterol as a treatment for cataracts after hearing of two children in China who had inherited a congenital form of cataract. The children’s parents had not suffered from cataracts. The children both had a mutation that prevented the production of lanosterol. The parents did not have this mutation.

As the children did not produce lanosterol and got cataracts and the parents were producing lanasterol and did not get cataracts it was thought, by scientists, that the lanosterol could stop the defective crystalline proteins from clumping together and forming cataracts (in the non-congenital cases).

The research.

Lanosterol-based eye drops were used in three types of experiments. Firstly, the scientists worked with human lens in the Laboratory. Secondly they tested the effects on rabbits and finally they tested the eye drops on dogs with naturally occurring cataracts. The results were as following. In the experiment with human lens there was a decrease in cataract size. After six days all but two of the 13 rabbits had experienced a decrees in the severity of their cataracts. Likewise, the cataracts of the dog shrunk almost disappearing. The results were published in Nature.

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The next step.

The study identifies lanosterol as a key molecule in the prevention of amyloids and points to a new way to approach cataract prevention and treatment. The next step is for the researchers to further investigate how the lanostero-based eye drops are working and then to see if they get the same positive results when the drops are tested on humans.

Featured photo credit: Doing Mercy via doingmercy.com

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Rebecca Beris

Rebecca is a wellness and lifestyle writer at Lifehack.

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Last Updated on January 21, 2020

The Best Way to Create a Vision for the Life You Want

The Best Way to Create a Vision for the Life You Want

Creating a vision for your life might seem like a frivolous, fantastical waste of time, but it’s not: creating a compelling vision of the life you want is actually one of the most effective strategies for achieving the life of your dreams. Perhaps the best way to look at the concept of a life vision is as a compass to help guide you to take the best actions and make the right choices that help propel you toward your best life.

your vision of where or who you want to be is the greatest asset you have

    Why You Need a Vision

    Experts and life success stories support the idea that with a vision in mind, you are more likely to succeed far beyond what you could otherwise achieve without a clear vision. Think of crafting your life vision as mapping a path to your personal and professional dreams. Life satisfaction and personal happiness are within reach. The harsh reality is that if you don’t develop your own vision, you’ll allow other people and circumstances to direct the course of your life.

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    How to Create Your Life Vision

    Don’t expect a clear and well-defined vision overnight—envisioning your life and determining the course you will follow requires time, and reflection. You need to cultivate vision and perspective, and you also need to apply logic and planning for the practical application of your vision. Your best vision blossoms from your dreams, hopes, and aspirations. It will resonate with your values and ideals, and will generate energy and enthusiasm to help strengthen your commitment to explore the possibilities of your life.

    What Do You Want?

    The question sounds deceptively simple, but it’s often the most difficult to answer. Allowing yourself to explore your deepest desires can be very frightening. You may also not think you have the time to consider something as fanciful as what you want out of life, but it’s important to remind yourself that a life of fulfillment does not usually happen by chance, but by design.

    It’s helpful to ask some thought-provoking questions to help you discover the possibilities of what you want out of life. Consider every aspect of your life, personal and professional, tangible and intangible. Contemplate all the important areas, family and friends, career and success, health and quality of life, spiritual connection and personal growth, and don’t forget about fun and enjoyment.

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    Some tips to guide you:

    • Remember to ask why you want certain things
    • Think about what you want, not on what you don’t want.
    • Give yourself permission to dream.
    • Be creative. Consider ideas that you never thought possible.
    • Focus on your wishes, not what others expect of you.

    Some questions to start your exploration:

    • What really matters to you in life? Not what should matter, what does matter.
    • What would you like to have more of in your life?
    • Set aside money for a moment; what do you want in your career?
    • What are your secret passions and dreams?
    • What would bring more joy and happiness into your life?
    • What do you want your relationships to be like?
    • What qualities would you like to develop?
    • What are your values? What issues do you care about?
    • What are your talents? What’s special about you?
    • What would you most like to accomplish?
    • What would legacy would you like to leave behind?

    It may be helpful to write your thoughts down in a journal or creative vision board if you’re the creative type. Add your own questions, and ask others what they want out of life. Relax and make this exercise fun. You may want to set your answers aside for a while and come back to them later to see if any have changed or if you have anything to add.

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    What Would Your Best Life Look Like?

    Describe your ideal life in detail. Allow yourself to dream and imagine, and create a vivid picture. If you can’t visualize a picture, focus on how your best life would feel. If you find it difficult to envision your life 20 or 30 years from now, start with five years—even a few years into the future will give you a place to start. What you see may surprise you. Set aside preconceived notions. This is your chance to dream and fantasize.

    A few prompts to get you started:

    • What will you have accomplished already?
    • How will you feel about yourself?
    • What kind of people are in your life? How do you feel about them?
    • What does your ideal day look like?
    • Where are you? Where do you live? Think specifics, what city, state, or country, type of community, house or an apartment, style and atmosphere.
    • What would you be doing?
    • Are you with another person, a group of people, or are you by yourself?
    • How are you dressed?
    • What’s your state of mind? Happy or sad? Contented or frustrated?
    • What does your physical body look like? How do you feel about that?
    • Does your best life make you smile and make your heart sing? If it doesn’t, dig deeper, dream bigger.

    It’s important to focus on the result, or at least a way-point in your life. Don’t think about the process for getting there yet—that’s the next stepGive yourself permission to revisit this vision every day, even if only for a few minutes. Keep your vision alive and in the front of your mind.

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    Plan Backwards

    It may sound counter-intuitive to plan backwards rather than forwards, but when you’re planning your life from the end result, it’s often more useful to consider the last step and work your way back to the first. This is actually a valuable and practical strategy for making your vision a reality.

    • What’s the last thing that would’ve had to happen to achieve your best life?
    • What’s the most important choice you would’ve had to make?
    • What would you have needed to learn along the way?
    • What important actions would you have had to take?
    • What beliefs would you have needed to change?
    • What habits or behaviors would you have had to cultivate?
    • What type of support would you have had to enlist?
    • How long will it have taken you to realize your best life?
    • What steps or milestones would you have needed to reach along the way?

    Now it’s time to think about your first step, and the next step after that. Ponder the gap between where you are now and where you want to be in the future. It may seem impossible, but it’s quite achievable if you take it step-by-step.

    It’s important to revisit this vision from time to time. Don’t be surprised if your answers to the questions, your technicolor vision, and the resulting plans change. That can actually be a very good thing; as you change in unforeseeable ways, the best life you envision will change as well. For now, it’s important to use the process, create your vision, and take the first step towards making that vision a reality.

    Featured photo credit: Matt Noble via unsplash.com

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