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Eye Drops for Cataracts Treatment: What You Need to Know

Eye drops are not a viable treatment for cataracts.

The only proven medical treatment for cataracts is surgery. Cataract eye surgery removes the clouded lenses and replaces it with a synthetic or man-made lens.

Is It Possible to Treat Cataracts With Eye Drops?

No, it’s currently not possible to treat cataracts with eye drops.

Cataracts are the hardening of the lens of the eye, commonly associated with aging. While many products like eye drops are marketed as able to dissolve cataracts, there is little proof of their efficacy. 

Research is underway, and it’s possible that eye drops could be a treatment for cataracts in the future. 

In a 2015 study, scientists found new compounds that appear to reverse the progression of cataracts. While these are exciting developments, it’s a long road before eye drops may be considered a real option for cataract treatment.

Types of Eye Drops for Cataracts

While there are many headlines about eye drops to dissolve cataracts, these are mostly scams, as they lack scientific proof. Many of the substances used have only been studied in animals.

There are other types of eye drops that hold potential for cataract treatment. While they don’t dissolve cataracts, they can improve other aspects of vision or potentially reduce the progression of cataracts.

Antioxidant Eye Drops

Antioxidant eye drops may help to encourage lens transparency in those with cataracts. They offer support for a weakening antioxidant system in the eyes. These drops are used overseas and marketed in different brands, including OcluMed, Can-C, and Brite Eyes III.

N-Acetylcarnosine

According to Primary Care Optometry News, in one study involving cataract patients, 90 percent of participants treated with N-acetylcarnosine saw improved visual acuity, and 88 percent experienced improvements in sensitivity to glare. 

In the same study, people experienced no decrease in vision or adverse side effects as a result of the treatment.

Lanosterol

Another study showed that a natural steroid known as lanosterol reduces cataract severity in animals. This treatment decreased preformed protein aggregates and also improved lens transparency. 

A later study failed to support the finding that lanosterol improves lens clarity for those with cataracts. Research is ongoing.

C-KAD

One promising ophthalmic solution is a topical solution called C-KAD. This formula is a drug designed to prevent oxidative stress that causes cataracts. 

C-KAD holds the promise of helping improve vision for people with early to moderate cataracts. Clinical trials are ongoing.

How Eye Drops for Cataracts Work

Again, there are no eye drops proven to improve cataracts. There are also no eye drops proven to prevent cataracts from getting worse. 

According to the American Optometric Association, eye drops are an interesting development, but more research is needed. 

Many of the claims about cataract curing eye drops lack valid scientific proof. Studies supporting such use were often flawed in several ways. Many lacked control groups or had conflicts of interest. 

Other Options in Development

Another area of research in favor of a nonsurgical approach to cataracts comes from Anglia Ruskin University. Eye experts are investigating ways to use drug therapy as a viable alternative to cataract surgery. 

The research findings highlight the role of aquaporin proteins to help the eye lens work correctly. While more research is needed, early indications point toward the potential to treat cataracts with drug therapies instead of surgery in the future. 

When Is Cataract Surgery Necessary?

Cataract surgery is necessary when the vision impairment from a cataract is affecting daily life. While cataracts can initially just be monitored, at a certain point, the cloudiness impairs daily activities, like reading and driving.

According to the American Academy of Ophthalmology, cataract surgery is the only way to effectively treat cataracts. In this common procedure, a natural lens that is clouded by a cataract is replaced with a clear, artificial lens. The result is clear vision.

Cataract Eye Drops FAQs

Can eye drops dissolve cataracts?

No, there are currently no eye drops that can dissolve or cure cataracts. The only treatment to remove cataracts is surgery.

Can you get rid of cataracts without surgery?

No, surgery is the only option to remove cataracts.

What are the best eye drops for cataracts?

There are no eye drops that can cure or remove cataracts. There are potentially eye drops that can support overall eye health for those with cataracts, such as antioxidant eye drops. Talk to your doctor about any eye drops that may be beneficial for you.

References

  1. What Are Cataracts? American Academy of Ophthalmology.

  2. Could Eye Drops Be an Alternative Treatment to Cataract Surgery? (December 2015). American Optometric Association.

  3. Antioxidant Eye Drops Provide Another Option for Cataract Patients. (October 2015). Primary Care Optometry News.

  4. Eye Drop Under Development for Cataract Delay, Prevention. (March 2008). CRST Europe.

  5. Lanosterol Synthase Pathway Alleviates Lens Opacity in Age-Related Cortical Cataract (June 2018). Journal of Ophthalmology.

  6. Lanosterol Reverses the Opacity of Congenital Cataract Patient-Specific-Lentoid Bodies Derived From Human iPSCs. (July 2019). Investigative Ophthalmology & Visual Science.

  7. Clearing Cataracts With Eye Drops. (November 2015). University of California.

  8. Overview Cataract Surgery. National Health Service.

  9. Steroid Eye Drops Reverse Cataracts in Mice. (November 2015). Science.

  10. New Research May Revolutionize Cataract Treatment: Breakthrough by Experts Supports Drug Therapy as Alternative to Surgery. (May 2021). Science Daily.

  11. Lanosterol Reverses Protein Aggregation in Cataracts. (July 2015). Nature.

  12. Advances in Pharmacotherapy of Cataracts. (November 2020). Annals of Translational Medicine.

  13. Failure of Oxysterols Such as Lanosterol to Restore Lens Clarity From Cataracts. (June 2019). Scientific Reports.

Last Updated September 7, 2022

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