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Pinpointing the Causes of Cataracts

Study identifies loss of eye gel as risk factor

MONDAY, Jan. 26, 2004 (HealthDayNews) -- A key risk factor for cataracts has been identified by researchers at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis.

For the first time, they demonstrated an association between the loss of gel in the eye's vitreous body (the gel between the retina and the back of the lens) and the formation of nuclear cataracts, which are the most common form of age-related cataracts.

The findings appear in the January issue of Investigative Ophthalmology and Visual Science.

A better understanding of the causes of cataracts may help scientists develop ways to prevent them.

A cataract is a clouding of the eye's lens. Cataracts are the most common cause of blindness in the world, responsible for about 50 percent of all blindness.

"Most people think of cataracts as a problem that we develop if we're lucky to live long enough, but clearly there are people who live to quite an old age and never get cataracts," principal investigator David C. Beebe says in a prepared statement.

"The perception that they are inevitable may have skewed our perspective about preventing cataracts, but it may be possible to prevent them if we can continue to home in on the causes of cataracts," Beebe says.

More information

Here's where you can learn more about cataracts.

SOURCE: Washington University School of Medicine, news release, January 2004
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