We’ve always been told not to stare at the sun, and an interesting new study confirms this. With over 24 million Americans suffering from cataracts, aging may not be the only factor contributing to these hindrances in sight. Read on to learn more on the study.
In June 2014, the National Eye Institute (part of the National Institutes of Health) conducted the study on the theory that if sunlight can damage skin, it could also damage eyes. Led by researchers at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, Ohio, they found UV light can damage the proteins found in eyes in a distinct way, causing glycation.
Glycation is the covalent bonding of a protein or lipid with sugar without the controlling action of an enzyme to keep it from damaging the tissue, a condition that typically leads to cells damaged by oxidative stress and ultimately cataracts. However, the cells in the eyes are not typically exposed to this type of glycation and oxidative stress, resulting in a mystery as to how cataracts are formed.
The study found UV light can substitute for oxygen to trigger these harmful oxidative reactions in the lens. Although other similar studies have been performed, this was the first to provide a detailed play-by-play of the chemical changes induced by UV light that lead to cataracts.
Researchers found that UVA light can trigger a chain reaction in the absence of oxygen in the eye that ends with glycation. They also found that mice whose eyes were exposed to two hours of intense UVA light developed glycation. The scientists are also hopeful that these findings will allow them to develop a treatment for both eyes and the skin that blocks this glycation.
Read the entire report here.
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