Cataract is described as the clouding of the lens in the eye leading to a deterioration in vision. It often develops with age, but trauma and exposure to intense radiation can also cause it to form.

Easy preventions for developing cataracts include wearing sunglasses and abstaining from smoking, but the only known way to treat cataracts is through cataract surgery. It is estimated that more than 30 million cataract surgeries will be performed annually by 2020.

In collaboration with Hoya Surgical Optics, with funding from Hoya Surgical Optics and The Humane Research Trust, researchers at the University of East Anglia (UEA) now have an improved laboratory model which replicates cataract surgery on human donor eyes. This enhanced model provides a better understanding and evaluation of the artificial intraocular lens (IOL) implants in a post-surgical environment.

During cataract surgery, the cloudy lens will be replaced with these IOL implants. One of the common complications after cataract surgery is Posterior Capsule Opacification (PCO), where the individual’s vision will turn blurry. The only way to remove this is through laser surgery, which is both expensive and risky. Thus, the improved human capsular model, pioneered in the 1990s, allows scientists to better understand the psychological events of PCO and ways to manage it.

Professor Michael Wormstone, lead researcher from UEA’s School of Biological Sciences, commented that ‘Our model now mimics the transient nature of inflammation that patients experience after cataract surgery.’

The researchers used this model to examine the influence of two market-leading commercial IOLs – Alcon AcrysofTM and Hoya VivinexTM – on PCO management. The study shows that the model ‘predicts that the Hoya VivinexTM is better able to manage events leading to PCO than the Alcon AcrysoftTM IOL.’

The results of the investigation confirm this statement as cell growth was reduced on the posterior capsule, there was lower light scatter in the central visual axis, and IOL surface growth significantly decreased.

Prof. Wormstone said ‘We believe this latest model will allow assessment of current commercial IOLs and will aid the development of next generation lenses.’


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