Archive for January 2019

Eye Drops that Dissolve Cataracts

It could mean a cheap, painless way to restore vision to thousands.

Most of us take our vision for granted. As a result, we take the ability to read, write, drive, and complete a multitude of other tasks for granted. However, sight is not so easy for everyone. Indeed, for many people, si

Fortunately, there is a treatment; however, the only option is surgery, and it is prohibitively expensive. This means that, unfortunately, for individuals in developing nations, who often lack access to basic medical care, treatment is not an option.

But of course, this isn’t just a problem faced by developing nations.

There are, however, other treatment options. Researchers based in the US have created a drug that can be delivered directly into the eye via an eyedropper. And it can dissolve cataracts.

Despite its remarkable promise, the treatment has yet to be tested on humans. The drug is slated to enter clinical trials, but because of the strict regulations put in place to ensure there are no extreme side effects associated with new drugs, it will be some time before these drops make it to market and can be utilized as a viable alternative to surgery.

Regardless, this is a great step forward.

How It Works

Cataracts result from the structure of the crystallin proteins that make up the lens in our eyes. Specifically, they form when this structure deteriorates, which causes the proteins to clump together, forming a milky layer over the eye that obstructs vision.

Scientists aren’t entirely sure what causes the proteins to do this (in other words, they’re not entirely certain why cataracts form in the first place). That said, there are some ideas, and this is where the new drug comes in.

This treatment was created based on a naturally-occurring steroid, which is known as “lanosterol.” Scientists recently discovered two siblings who had cataracts when their parents did not. These siblings shared a mutation that stopped the production of lanosterol. Notably, their parents did not have this mutation.

The scientists then thought, if the parents are producing lanosterol and don’t have cataracts, then perhaps their kids have cataracts because they aren’t producing lanosterol. Thus, adding lanosterol to the eye (or something that is similar to it) might stop the crystallin proteins from clumping together and forming cataracts.

The scientists tested this hypothesis on rabbits, and the results were very promising. After just a week, all but two of their 13 test subjects had gone from having severe cataracts to mild cataracts (or none at all). This drug was also tested on dogs, and it had the same results.

IIf the trials on humans are successful, and they make it to market, these eye drops could be used to change the lives of millions around the globe. It could literally mean the difference between blindness and sight. Ruben Abagyan, who co-authored the paper, hopes that the lanosterol drops will have the same impact on cataracts in humans.

The Ancient Greek Cure for Depression and Anxiety

As far as societies go, we’re one stressed out, anxious, depressed and self-medicating mess. Those of us who work on the front-lines in the mental health field know this all too well; others need only to take a careful look around the social-cultural landscape to appreciate that our collective mental health is not too, well, healthy.

Globally, things aren’t much better; according to the World Health Organization (WHO) 450 million people worldwide are directly affected by mental disorders and disabilities and that by 2030 depression will top the list of all other health conditions as the number one financial burden around the world.

Why? Why are we getting more stressed out and more depressed?

Increased rates of depression (not to mention other mental health woes like anxiety and addiction) are a byproduct of our modernized, industrialized and urbanized lives. It seems that our love affair with the gadgets, gizmos and comforts of being a highly technologically evolved society have put us on a never-ending treadmill of overworking, under-sleeping and hyper-stressing as we exhaustedly lunge towards the “American Dream”. Our need for i-Phones, plasma TVs and a bigger house is killing us.

The levels of bright-light exposure-time spent outdoors-have been declining. The average adult gets just over six and a half hours of sleep a night. It used to be nine hours a night. There’s increasing isolation, fragmentation, the erosion of community.

We feel perpetually stressed. And the more we learn about depression neurologically, the more we learn that it represents the brain’s runaway stress response.

So what were these magical lifestyle changes (which have also become known as “Caveman Therapy”)?

They were essentially 6 things:

eating an omega-3 rich diet;

getting regular daily exercise;

getting plenty of natural sunlight;

getting ample sleep every night;

being involved in some type of social activity where social connections were made; and

participation in meaningful tasks that leave little time for negative thoughts-all things that our ancestors had in abundance.

A holistic way of living that had been known in the ancient world as the “Bios Pythagorikos” (the Pythagorean Way of Life) that included

a healthy vegetarian diet,

daily rigorous physical exercise, and

philosophical group discussions (dialectical discussions) that were meant to help a person better understand their universe and their purpose within that universe.

And living ethically was also essential. For the Greeks, act-right/think-right were the keys towards well-being.

Participants in my study who immersed themselves into this more engaged, reflective way of life experienced the following:

meaningfully increased levels of personal as well as transpersonal awareness;

an increased appreciation for life (as well as death);

an increased sense of purpose in their lives; an increased sense of concern for others, as well as

an increased sense of spirituality and self-acceptance.

So if you’re feeling depressed or stressed out, instead of reaching for the medicine cabinet, maybe it’s time to try a very old-school–as in ancient–solution; you might be amazed at how differently you feel and how differently you experience the world.