[to top of second column]
It took over a decade of laboratory and animal testing, but the result is a machine that does just that -- by aiming Ansari's special laser at the lens for five seconds and then calculating light scattering.
In last month's Archives of Ophthalmology, National Institutes of Health researchers reports tests of 235 people ages 7 to 86. Alpha-crystallin decreased steadily both as lenses began to fog and as people with seemingly clear lenses got older.
"What we are really looking at is the reserve of this alpha-crystallin," Ansari explains. It can "repair any damage if there is a certain concentration. If it depletes below that level then I think the game is over."
What next? NASA and NIH researchers separately are planning to study if special formulations of antioxidants -- nutrients that fight certain age-related tissue damage -- can slow alpha-crystallin loss.
Ansari also plans to measure the impact of long-term space travel on astronauts' vision.
Already, Datiles has used the test to diagnose cataracts beginning in some patients whose doctors found no other reason for their worsening vision.
And at Hopkins, ophthalmologist Dr. Walter Stark is using it to help tell if some patients complaining that their LASIK surgery for nearsightedness is wearing off need more vision-sharpening surgery -- or if they're really forming a cataract, which LASIK can't fix. Also, researchers are testing diabetics with a cataract-speeding eye disorder.
"This test does correlate significantly with cataract formation," Stark says. "We think it has great potential."
Lauran Neergaard covers health and medical issues for The Associated Press in Washington.
Copyright 2009 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
< Recent articles
Back to top
News | Sports | Business | Rural Review | Teaching & Learning | Home and Family | Tourism | Obituaries
Law & Courts |
Spiritual Life |
Health & Fitness |
Calendar | Letters to the Editor