Lifting the Fog on Cataract Meds

Non-prescription medication may work to prevent cataracts

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Joseph V. Madia, MD

(RxWiki News) Pirenoxine (PRX), a non-prescription medication found in eye drops used in China and other countries to prevent cataracts, may actually work, according to a new study.

Scientists Tzu-Hua Wu, Fu-Yung Huang, Shih-Hsiung Wu and colleagues tested PRX in solutions that mimic the chemical composition of the eye lens of cataract patients. The solutions were comprised of the common lens protein crystallin combined with either calcium or selenite, two minerals in which increased levels are believed to play a significant role in cataract development.

In the calcium solution, PRX reduced cloudiness by 38 percent, and in the selenite solution, cloudiness was reduced by 11 percent.

The authors write these findings provide a rationale for PRX's purported anti-cataract activity and suggest further study of the medicine.

Cataracts are a clouding that develop in the crystalline lens (or its envelope) in the eye. They vary from slight to complete opacity and obstruct the passage of light. One eye is usually affected before the other. The condition can cause blindness if left untreated.

"Cataracts are the leading cause of blindness worldwide and cataract surgery is one of the most common surgical procedures performed on the elderly in the United States," said Dr. Christopher Quinn, president of Omni Eye Services. "Any new treatment that helps prevent of slow the progression of cataract would be a welcome addition to helping prevent blindness and preserve the vision of millions worldwide."

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Review Date: 
February 25, 2011
Last Updated:
March 1, 2011