Research poised to lead to major advances in cataract treatment

March 1, 2013, Kingston University, London
Research poised to lead to major advances in cataract treatment

(Medical Xpress)—Research carried out by Professor Barbara Pierscionek and a team of fellow vision experts suggests that the way proteins are distributed in the lens of the eye may cause its gradient to be stepped rather than smooth as previously thought. The finding could give a new insight into the way the eye grows and lead to major improvements in synthetic lenses used in surgery to treat patients who have developed cataracts.

Artificial replacements did not currently match the quality of real ones, Professor Pierscionek said. "However this research could help give patients better vision if manufacturers use it to develop an improved able to change focus," she explained.

Professor Pierscionek, the Associate Dean of Research and Enterprise at Kingston's Faculty of Science, Engineering and Computing, has devoted two decades to researching the eye's lens. Her work has explored its biochemical, optical and . Since the lens is one of the few organs in the body that does not replenish itself, it is a model for ageing. "The lens is the key to a lot of things - we just haven't unlocked its full potential yet. It has the capacity to tell us what has happened to a person throughout their life and their disease state," Professor Pierscionek said.

can occur at any age, but often develop as people get older. In the United Kingdom, an estimated one in three people over the age of 65 is affected. Smoking and are thought to be causes and they can also occur in people with diseases such as diabetes. The condition may gradually make vision more blurred and make it difficult to see in poor light. Treatment usually involves replacing the affected lens with an artificial one.

Professor Pierscionek carried out much of her most recent research at Japan's Spring-8 facility - home of the world's largest third generation synchrotron. It accelerates close to the to generate and other beams. The electrons are injected into a storage ring 1.4km in diameter, with the resultant X-rays fed into experimental stations dotted around the site. "These X-rays can penetrate parts of the body and soft tissue better than other forms of radiation," Professor Pierscionek said. "This allows engineers and scientists to look deeply into anything from metal to bacteria." When taking measurements it was important to keep the sample as close as possible to its natural state, Professor Pierscionek said. "The synchrotron is so sophisticated that it allows us to measure the lenses while they are still in the eyeball."

Some of the research has been conducted in collaboration with scientists from the Spring-8 facility and Cardiff University. It is being funded by eye research charity Fight for Sight as well as grants from Spring-8, which has provided use of the synchrotron.

Further analysis is now being carried out in laboratories at Kingston University. Professor Pierscionek and her team are working with Dr Mehdi Bahram, a researcher funded by Fight for Sight, using ray tracing and mathematical modelling. The work involves projecting lasers of different colours through different parts of the lens to trace their paths. The information will then be used to help develop lenses with improved optical quality.

Explore further: Don't take shortcuts when caring for contact lenses, expert says

Related Stories

Don't take shortcuts when caring for contact lenses, expert says

November 24, 2012
(HealthDay)—Common shortcuts people take when caring for their contact lenses could have serious consequences, such as infections or ulcerations, according to an eye disease expert.

Scleral lenses benefit patients with corneal irregularities

October 9, 2012
(Medical Xpress)—A UC Davis Health System Eye Center study found that scleral lenses, which rest beyond the limits of the cornea and cover the white part of the eye (sclera), were a good alternative for patients with corneal ...

Recommended for you

Study advances gene therapy for glaucoma

January 16, 2018
While testing genes to treat glaucoma by reducing pressure inside the eye, University of Wisconsin-Madison scientists stumbled onto a problem: They had trouble getting efficient gene delivery to the cells that act like drains ...

New study offers added hope for patients awaiting corneal transplants

January 9, 2018
New national research led by Jonathan Lass of Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine has found that corneal donor tissue can be safely stored for 11 days before transplantation surgery to correct eye problems ...

Diabetic blindness caused and reversed "trapped" immune cells in rodent retinas

January 3, 2018
Johns Hopkins researchers have discovered a cell signaling pathway in mice that triggers vision loss in patients with diabetic retinopathy and retinal vein occlusion – diseases characterized by the closure of blood vessels ...

Ophthalmologists increasingly dissatisfied with electronic health records

December 29, 2017
Ophthalmologists' use of electronic health records (EHR) systems for storing and accessing patients' medical histories more than doubled between 2006 and 2016, while their perceptions of financial and clinical productivity ...

Higher omega-3 fatty acid intake tied to lower glaucoma risk

December 26, 2017
(HealthDay)—Increased daily intake of ω-3 fatty acids is associated with lower odds of glaucoma, but higher levels of total polyunsaturated fatty acid (PUFA) intake are associated with higher odds of developing glaucoma, ...

Protein analysis allows for treatment of eye-disease symptoms with existing drugs

December 21, 2017
Demonstrating the potential of precision health, a team led by a researcher at the Stanford University School of Medicine has matched existing drugs to errant proteins expressed by patients with a rare eye disease.

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.