Catching Cataracts Early
Reported September 2009
WASHINGTON, D.C. (Ivanhoe Newswire) -- Cataracts cause blurring of the eye's lens, and if not caught early enough, can lead to blindness. Now there's a new simple, early detection device to save your sight.
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Like millions of Americans, Peggy Walker developed a cataract in one eye. The condition started to affect her daily life.
"With the growth of the cataract, my night vision got worse and worse," Walker told Ivanhoe.
Surgery to replace the cataract lens fixed her vision, but she's at risk o developing a cataract in her other eye. Now, ophthalmologists at the National Institutes of Health have a new device that catches cataracts before vision problems start.
"It's an early alarm system." Manu,el Datiles, M.D., an ophthalmologist at the National Institutes of Health in Washington, D.C., explained.
Cataracts form when proteins in the eye clump together and cloud the lens. If not found early, the condition can cause blindness.
"So we actually detect the changes in proteins in the eye before they start clumping together, causing clouding of the lens," Dr. Datiles said.
The device uses a low power, safe, laser light called dynamic light scattering, or DLS. Shining the laser into the eye, the light identifies damaged proteins in the eye, revealing to doctors early telltale signs of cataract formation.
"If you start depleting this protein, then you start developing a cataract," Dr. Datiles said.
For Walker, surgery helped her see clearer. In fact, today's test proved her eyes are picture perfect.
The device is being used in clinical trials at Johns Hopkins University and allows for easier testing of medications that might prevent or slow down cataract formation. Risk factors for developing cataracts include smoking, diabetes and sun exposure.
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National Eye Institute
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