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February 18, 2011

Eye Drop to Prevent Cataracts?

For many, the formation of cataracts is a natural part of the aging process, causing the eye's natural lens to cloud and distort vision. The lens is held inside a capsule, and is made of mostly protein fibers and water arranged precisely so as to permit light to pass through without interference. Over time, these fibers begin to break down and cluster together, clouding the lens. As more fibers break down, the clouding becomes denser and covers a greater area of the lens. Cataract surgery becomes necessary to restore clear vision.

In China, there is a non-prescription eye drop that has been used for over 60 years to prevent and treat cataracts.  The active ingredient of this drop is caled pirenoxine (PRX).  There has been no scientific basis for the effectiveness of PRX, until now...

Abstract Image

In last months issue of Inorganic Chemistry is an article titled Ditopic Complexation of Selenite Anions or Calcium Cations by Pirenoxine: An Implication for Anti-Cataractogenesis.  In the study, Tzu-Hua Wu and colleagues tested PRX on cloudy solutions that mimic the chemical composition of cataracts. The solutions contained crystallin -- a common lens protein -- combined with either calcium or selenite, two minerals whose increased levels appear to play key roles in the development of cataracts. Presence of PRX reduced the cloudiness of the lens solution containing calcium by 38 percent and reduced the cloudiness of the selenite solution by 11 percent.

"These results may provide a rationale for using PRX as an anti-cataract agent and warrant further biological studies," the article notes.  Who knows, there may be a time in the not to distant future when we will be prescribing these drops to ward off cataract surgery!

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