A Potential Cause of Cataracts

August 26, 2013

Howard S. Weiss, MD, is a skilled cataract surgeon with thousands of procedures to his credit. An expert on glaucoma and cataracts, Howard S. Weiss, MD, has taught his fellow ophthalmologists through the American Academy of Ophthalmology and teaches eye doctors at Georgetown University and Walter Reed National Military Medical Center.

Aging is often considered the cause of cataracts, but new findings are beginning to uncover the biology behind the disease. Researchers have been considering oxygen-free radicals, which are suspected to play a role in the development of cataracts. Researchers first began focusing on these particles because of their correlation with changes in the body.

Oxygen-free radicals, also known as oxidants, can be produced in superfluous amounts due to toxins, smoke, ultraviolet radiation, and infections entering the body. An excessive amount of oxygen-free radicals can create harmful changes to nearly any cell in the body. The development of cataracts is one of the changes that can occur. Scientists believe the abundance of oxidants, coupled with a deficiency in glutathione, causes the cataract to form. Glutathione is an important antioxidant that can limit the impact of oxygen-free radicals. The theory is, as we age, glutathione in the eye decreases, making the eye susceptible to oxidation.

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