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Researchers Develop Antioxidant that Could Cure Cataracts

An antioxidant was recently discovered by scientists to have the ability to prevent and even cure eye conditions such as macular degeneration and cataracts among others. The recent study was headed by Dr. Nuran Ercal of the Missouri University of Science and Technology. The research team who discovered the antioxidant is also now preparing eye drops with the N-acetylcysteine amide (NACA) antioxidant to help treat eye conditions.

Dr. Ercal mentioned that the new antioxidant was discovered due to the original antioxidant believed to treat eye conditions, acetylcysteine (NAC). The new antioxidant, however, is said to be more effective in delivering the treatment due to its ability to easily move across cellular membranes. The researchers were able to improve NACA from NAC by allowing neutralization of the carboxylic group found in NAC. This has made NACA more able to pass through cellular membranes, according to Dr. Ercal.

It was reported the antioxidant NACA is another source of glutathione, which is considered to be the main source of antioxidant power in cells. Glutathione is characteristically decreased in degenerative eye conditions. The ability of NACA to be administered in low doses makes it attain a better therapeutic index, and this decreases the possibility of side effect risks that has been linked with NAC.

In the United States, it has been reported that over 30 million individuals suffer from vision loss due to an age-related degenerative eye condition. Doctors say that this number will increase twice in a decade. Dr. Ercal said that what NACA offers is an alternative to expensive eye surgeries. Just using mere eye drops, an individual is able to attain healthier eyes and in turn, his or her quality of life will be greatly improved.

NACA is also currently tested for lead poisoning and HIV-related health conditions. It was just four years ago since they tested the antioxidant in relation to eye conditions and this is when they discovered its preventative and curative ability. There was a statistically significant data collected concluding that NACA is able to prevent the formation of cataracts. The researchers suggest that further testing is needed in order to establish the right dosage and the right frequency for different eye conditions.  Further testing will also provide them possible hints on the side effects of the treatment.

Cataracts are proteins referred to as crystallins that start to clump together as a person ages, losing its structure. This eye condition is inevitable with age. Cataracts should be checked starting at age 40 to prevent it from fully denaturing. There are now several means of treating cataracts, such as laser treatment and surgical removal of the cataracts. New lenses will replace the clouded ones to provide clearer vision for those who suffer from the condition. This will eventually allow better quality of life for those with vision-impairment due to cataracts. Any ophthalmologists who are certified to conduct cataract removal surgery can successfully treat a person with cataracts. 

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