DISEASES

Cataract and Presbyopia

Leading cause of blindness worldwide

Cataract is a degenerative condition of the eye's natural lens that can result in blurry vision, nearsightedness, color vision deficiency or blindness. In the lens of a normal eye, proteins are arranged in a precise structure to keep the lens clear and allow light to pass through, creating a sharp image which is then relayed to the brain. In an eye with a cataract, the proteins of the internal lens fuse together, making it difficult for light to pass through the lens and creating a blurry or distorted image that is forwarded to the brain. This progressive and painless clouding of the internal lens of the eye effects more than half of Americans age 65 and older, and is the leading cause of blindness worldwide(1).

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70% of people will develop a cataract by age 80

Cataract is the most common cause of vision loss in the world and is expected to affect approximately 1 billion people in the world by 2020. As many as 903 million people worldwide were affected by cataracts in 2015(2). While cataracts can occur at any age, most people are diagnosed with this condition between the ages of 65 and 80. It is estimated that by age 80, 70% of people will develop a cataract(2).

Current treatment methods are invasive

For moderate to severe cases of cataract, surgery is currently the only option for treatment. During standard cataract surgery, multiple incisions are made to the eye to access the affected lens. The clouded lens is removed and replaced with an artificial lens. Approximately 3.5 million cataract surgeries are performed every year in the USA alone(2). While surgery is successful in the large majority of cases, complications such as swelling of the retina, high eye pressure, and droopy eyelids can occur in some patents. 45% of patients who receive cataract surgery will eventually need glasses or contact lenses(3). The medical need exists for less invasive treatment options, particularly those that would involve a pharmacological agent with few adverse effects.

No treatments exist to slow progression

There are currently no proven prevention methods or treatments to reverse or slow the progression of cataracts. Most cataracts can be diagnosed with an eye exam, but the available treatments following diagnosis is limited.

(1) Smith C. Cataracts FAQ [Internet]. Hopkinsmedicine.org. 2016 [cited 2016 Nov 17]; Available from: http://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/wilmer/conditions/cataracts_faq.html.

(2) Market Scope, 2015 Report on the Global IOL Market.

(3) R P Gale, M Saldana, R L Johnston, B Zuberbuhler and M McKibbin: Eye (2009) 23, 149-152; doi:10.1038/sj.eye.6702954; published online 24 August 2007. Available from: http://www.nature.com/eye/journal/v23/n1/full/6702954a.html.