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New Function for Protein Previously Thought to be Inert is a Game Changer for Cataract Prevention

February 21, 2019

Scientists studying the biochemistry behind cataract formation have come across a new finding that is bound to revolutionize the way we understand vision impairment. 

A protein, previously thought to be inert, is actually playing a highly vital role in preventing cataract formation. 

Every lens is composed of cells, packed with structural proteins known as crystallins. Crystallins produce a gel with optical properties that bring light onto the retina into focus. 

This is where the cataract comes in. When crystallin proteins congregate, they become opaque. As crystallin proteins lose their transparent quality, they produce the cloudy coverings we know as cataracts.

Harvard postdoctoral fellow Eugene Serebryany is the lead author on a recent study, published in the Journal of Biological Chemistry, regarding crystallins and cataracts. Serebryany explains that the accepted scientific belief was that crystallin proteins didn’t “interact much with fellow proteins” and after discovering the contrary, the Harvard Research team remarks this is “a fairly striking phenomenon.”

In summary: the “healthy version of a protein” the science community has so long assumed to be inert is, in reality, “causing a slightly damaged version to get much worse–and fast.”

What does this mean for the future of cataract prevention? This team at Harvard is continuing their research and believes that controlled peptide treatments can help hinder cataract formation.

You can also start preventing cataract formation today

There are steps and actions you can take today to decrease the likelihood of developing cataracts.

Yearly eye doctor visits

Even if you aren’t experiencing any noticeable changes in vision, a yearly eye doctor visit is one of the best preventative measures for cataracts. Our specialists at OCLI are able to detect potential cataracts early on, which is immensely beneficial for your vision long-term.

Healthy diet

Eating a diet rich in antioxidants, minerals, and vitamins can also help prevent cataract formation. Lutein and zeaxanthin, two types of carotenoids found in a variety of vegetables have been found to prevent and even slow down cataract growth.

Protect your eyes from the sun

There is a great deal of emphasis and information about protecting one’s skin from the sun. Eyes, too, are highly sensitive to sun exposure. Wearing UV sunglasses can go a long way in preventing the development of cataracts.

Commit to quitting smoking

Studies have found that smoking cessation can remarkably reduce the likelihood of cataracts. According to JAMA Ophthalmology, “current smokers who smoke more than 16 cigarettes per day had a 42% increased risk of cataract extraction compared to those who never smoke. Even after quitting for more than 20 years, the study found that men who had previously smoked 15 cigarettes or more a day had a 21% increased risk of cataract compared to those who never smoked at all.”

At OCLI, we make it our priority to help patients have the most comprehensive view of their current eye health possible. We also believe that cataract treatment can and should be easy. By offering the best cataract surgery experience, we help patients minimize both cost and recovery time.  If you are experiencing cataract symptoms or want to learn more about cataract prevention, make an appointment to talk to one of our specialists today.

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