Cataract detectable at prior formation stage using space station technology

Cataract which is responsible for almost half of the blindness occur worldwide, is actually caused by clouding of damage proteins within the eye lens. Researchers of National Eye Institute have discovered a new method which could detects cataracts even before they can be detected normally, and before they are symptomatic.

Presently diagnosis of cataract is carried out using slit-lamp microscope, a standard ophthalmological device that illuminates the eye with a beam of light so that cataract buildup can be examined with a microscope.

Whereas this new method, where scientists are using a laser probe, which was originally developed for U.S. space program, is capable of detecting cataract even before the formation of the protein cloud, to be very specific it can almost predict the future formation even when the eye is perfectly clear.

The new technique uses dynamic light scattering (DLS) to detect small proteins called alpha crystallins in the eye's lens. Alpha-crystallins are a reliable biomarker for cataracts. .

Alpha-crystallin proteins are between one and three nanometers in diameter–too small to detect using conventional equipment. But DLS can spot them by measuring the way that light is reflected by particles in a liquid.

The device has so far been tested in a clinical trial involving 235 patients, which includes young people with perfectly clear lenses to older people. The results were recently published in the journal Archives of Ophthalmology.

Source: Technologyreview

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