Cataracts are a leading cause of vision loss. Cataracts can affect people at any age but are especially common in older individuals. The National Institute of Health reports that over half of Americans age 80 or older have cataracts or have undergone surgery to treat cataracts.
With cataracts posing such a threat to vision, it is essential to consider the best way to treat this eye disease. Many people wonder if eye drops can treat cataracts. Dr. Raul Peña, whose eye institute serves the Harlingen, TX, area, discusses the data regarding eye drops for cataracts and the most effective cataract treatment currently available.
What Are Cataracts?
Cataracts are cloudy formations that gradually develop on the lens of the eye. The lens of the eye consists of crystalline proteins that act to keep the lens clear. If the proteins are disrupted, broken down, or clumped together (as is natural with aging), they can obscure the lens with a cloudy buildup. Cataracts can affect one eye or both. Common cataract symptoms include:
- Cloudy or blurry vision (like looking through a foggy window)
- Faded or less distinct colors
- Poor night vision
- Halos around sources of light
- Double vision
- Frequent changes in vision prescriptions
Can Cataracts Be Treated with Eyedrops?
Scientists have conducted research to determine if eyedrops can slow or reverse the progression of cataracts. In one study, a compound was identified that helps with the reversal of cataracts, and that can be used in eye drop form. The study tested 32 sterols, with a primary focus on Compound 29. It was found that Compound 29 dissolved amyloids as well as prevented the formation of new protein clumps. It was also found that Compound 29 reversed age-related and hereditary cases of cataracts in mice and human lens tissue.
Studies have also been conducted to test the efficacy of Can-C (NAC) eye drops for cataracts. According to a randomized, placebo-controlled study, 49 participants showed that, after six months of twice-daily drops, 90 percent of NAC-treated eyes showed a seven to 100 percent improvement in best-corrected visual acuity.
The results of these studies are promising, but some have criticized and questioned the study methods. Currently, no eyedrops have been approved by the Food and Drug Administration to treat cataracts.
In their early stages, many people can manage cataract symptoms and preserve their vision with lifestyle changes and stronger vision prescriptions. However, as cataracts progress, treatment is necessary.
Cataract surgery is the only FDA-approved treatment for cataracts. During cataract surgery, the affected lens is broken up and removed. The natural lens is replaced with an intraocular lens (IOL) that acts as a permanent contact lens. Dr. Peña offers several premium IOLs at his Harlingen practice that allow patients to enjoy clear vision at all distances. He customizes cataract surgery and helps patients select the IOL best suited to their unique needs and desires.
If cataracts are interfering with your vision and making it difficult to perform daily tasks, it may be time to consider cataract surgery. To learn more about cataract treatment and the premium IOLs offered by Dr. Raul Peña, call our Harlingen office at (956) 264-1200 or schedule an appointment online.