Weird /Eye/ Science

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Rounding up some interesting new research published this week!

Can a Glaucoma Eye Drop Help Treat Tuberculosis?
New research out of Michigan State University found that ethoxzolamide, a carbonic anhydrase inhibitor found in glaucoma eye drops like Azopt (brinzolamide) may reduce the virulence of Mycobacterium tuberculosis.  The drug makes it difficult for the TB bacteria to grow in it's host environment, and prevents it from being to grow within our body's immune system white blood cells -- increasing our body's ability to fight off the infection.  When coupled with existing antibiotic treatments, the use of ethoxzolamide could potentially reduce the risk of drug-resistant TB strains, and shorten the duration of antibiotic treatment needed to fight the infection.  All carbonic anhydrase inhibitors carry the potential risk for cross-sensitivity in patients with sulfa allergies.

Can an Eye Drop Dissolve Cataracts?
This article has been taking the internet by storm!  Researchers studied a family in China with three children who were born with severe cataracts and found that the children lacked a gene to produce a steroid called lanosterol.  Theorizing that the absence of lanosterol could be the cause of their cataract formation, the researchers then put the steroid to work on rabbit cataracts.  Rabbit lenses with various stages of cataract severity were incubated in a lanosterol solution for 6 days.  In that time significant improvement in clarity or resolution of cataract altogether was observed.  With such promising results in vivo testing was then performed on dogs with cataracts receiving lanosterol drops -- again with statistically significant improvement in lens clarity on the test subjects.  Lanosterol plays a role in preventing protein aggregation, which could help reduce the cloudiness and vision distortion associated with cataract formation.  We are still a long way from having human results to know if this is truly an efficacious and safe way to approach cataract care, but perhaps in the next few decades prescribing eye drops for cataracts will be a common treatment?

Dog cataract before (left) and after (right) lanosterol treatment via

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