Lanosterol eye drops are touted as the next promising development in cataract treatment. The chemical is naturally produced in the human body and is responsible for cholesterol and steroid hormone formation, among other things. Recent studies suggest that it may be effective in treating cataracts in the human eye.
What Is Lanosterol?
Lanosterol is a naturally occurring steroid that can uncloud eye cataracts. This ability was first noted in a study released in July 2015. Since then, scientists have identified no other chemicals that have that ability.
Cataracts are historically treated using surgical procedures, so lanosterol eye drops hold the potential to be groundbreaking. If cataracts can effectively be treated using eye drops, lanosterol eye drops will eliminate the need for cataract surgery.
Uses of Lanosterol
So far, lanosterol is used only to treat cataracts. Although it has thus far produced conflicting results in its animal and human testing phases, a consensus of medical researchers believe it can clear away cataracts in as little as two weeks under the right circumstances.
Research into lanosterol eye drops for cataracts is in full swing. Results of the human testing phase showed enough promise to suggest that it could be the real deal.
Lanosterol is produced by the human body as well, and its primary tasks were identified as the production of cholesterol as well as several other steroid hormones.
Does Lanosterol Really Work?
To understand whether lanosterol works, it’s important first to explore how it works. The Chief of Ophthalmic Genetics and Professor of Ophthalmology, Dr. Kang Zhang, is credited with the commencement of research into lanosterol as an organic compound that can clear cataracts. The findings, which were published in a July 2015 post in Nature Magazine, revealed that lanosterol could dissolve the protein blocks that caused opacity in the eye lens.
In addition to synthesizing steroid hormones and cholesterol, lanosterol can be found in abundance in the eye’s crystalline lens. Dr. Zhang noted in his first three human test subjects that there were genetic anomalies that interfered with lanosterol production, causing the development of opaque protein blocks in the lens. This led to the initial proposition that lanosterol could perhaps eliminate eye cataracts.
What followed was intensive animal testing, featuring the lenses of 13 cataracted rabbits, which were immersed in a 25mM solution of lanosterol and incubated for six days. Following the incubation period, scientists noted marked improvement in the clarity of the rabbits’ lenses.
Afterward, Dr. Zhang’s team began injecting lanosterol directly into the eyes of seven dogs with age-related cataracts. They injected it directly into the vitreous body, then administered eye drops three times a day for six weeks.
The results: Three of the seven dogs had their cataracts eliminated, while the remaining four dogs showed notable decreases in the opacity of their eye lenses.
Human Testing of Lanosterols
However, human lenses tested under similar conditions showed disappointing results. After six days of immersion in a lanosterol solution, people experienced no improvement in visual clarity.
To replicate the same results, they would have to administer injections along with the eye drops, which defeats the purpose of non-invasive remedies. It was not until lanosterol was combined with a proprietary delivery system known as ThruDelivery that it became viable as a non-invasive remedy for cataracts.
Even though it is currently marketed as a cataract treatment for pets (Lanomax), numerous ongoing studies suggest that lanosterol could soon be used to treat human cataracts.
Future Development of Lanosterol Drops
Researchers are looking at ways to deliver lanosterol to humans so that its effect stems cataract development. One method under investigation is not eye drops but nanotechnology. That is, getting lanosterol into a human body via nanoparticles (often called “beads”). This research holds much promise.
Conventional treatment for cataracts is eye surgery. Cataract surgery entails the removal of the clouded eye lens followed by the installation of an artificial one. It has a 99 percent success rate, even though it is deeply invasive and holds potential for complications.
Standard cataract surgery could cost anywhere between $3,000 to $5,000 per eye and $4,000 to $6,000 if laser assistance or advanced lens implants are required.
In comparison, lanosterol eye drops will only cost tens of dollars, making it a considerably cheaper alternative.
The Intravitreal Injection of Lanosterol Nanoparticles Rescues Lens Structure Collapse at an early Stage in Shumiya Cataract Rates. (2020, February 21). International Journal of Molecular Sciences.
Lanomax as a Drug in Cataract Treatment – A Case Study. (October 2018). Biophysics.
Lanosterol reverses protein aggregation in cataracts. (July, 2015). Nature.
Effects of lanosterol on human cataract nucleus. (December 2015). Indian Journal of Ophthalmology.
Last Updated July 20, 2023
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