Preliminary Research on Antioxidant Eye Drops for Cataracts

cataractsIn the United States, cataract surgery is widely available. Cataracts mostly affects seniors. Even though the surgery is common with little risk of side-effects, some patients want to hold off on the surgery or avoid it completely. Preliminary research on certain eye drops designed to address cataracts may offer hope to these patients.

Cataracts is a clouding of the lens of the eye. It is caused by oxidative damage from ultraviolet light (UV) exposure over time. Initial symptoms include blurred, clouded or dim vision; increasing difficulty with night vision; sensitivity to glare and light; halos around lights; frequent changes of lens prescription; colors fading/yellowing; and double vision in one eye. It is the leading cause of blindness in the world, mostly due to lack of access to cataract surgery. The surgery replaces the damaged lens with a new, artificial lens.

One study looked at OcluMed eye drops, which contains N-acetylcarnosine, L-carnosine, L-glutathione, cysteine ascorbate and L-cysteine. A group of test subjects who had a total of 24 eyes with early cataracts used the drops twice a day for 6 months. They were evaluated based on visual acuity, glare, contrast sensitivity and subjective response to the medication. While the objective measurements did not show a trend, patients had no adverse effects. Some subjects replaced their artificial tear drops with OcluMed because it made their eyes feel better longer. The researchers felt that a larger study was needed to spot trends and evaluate the product.

A study of the animal version of OcluMed, called “OcluVet,” found a measurable reduction in cataracts in 80% of rat eyes. This result is especially relevant to pet owners, because cataracts surgery on animals is expensive and risky.

A small (49 eyes) study on N-acetylcarnosine drops found 90% of eyes had improvements in best corrected visual acuity; and more than 88% had improved glare sensitivity.

Antioxidant drops designed to halt or slow the progress of cataracts may be helpful for patients in the US. They may also assist impoverished nations, whose ageing population may not have adequate access to vision-saving cataracts surgery.

nutrients Related: Learn about supporting lens health.

Source: “Antioxidant eye drops provide another option for cataract patients.” Primary Care Optometry News, October 2015. Jamie C. Wohlhagen, OD; Robert Abel Jr., MD