Cataract, which is currently cured only by surgery, could soon be treated with drugs, according to Medical Xpress.

A new study by researchers of Anglia Ruskin University (ARU), UK, has found extremely positive results of a revolutionary new treatment for cataracts in lab tests.

The findings, published in the peer-reviewed journal Investigative Ophthalmology and Visual Science, give hope that the eye condition could soon be treated with drugs, without surgery.

A cataract is a clouding of the normally clear lens of the eye. For people who have cataracts, seeing through cloudy lenses is a bit like looking through a frosty or fogged-up window, according to Mayo Clinic. Clouded vision caused by cataracts can make it more difficult to read, drive a car (especially at night) or see the expression on a friend’s face. Cataracts cause vision loss and blindness.

Lead author of the study Prof. Barbara Pierscionek and her team have been carrying out advanced optical tests on an oxysterol compound, called VP1-001, which had been proposed as an anti-cataract drug, per Medical Xpress.

In the lab study, treatment with the oxysterol compound VP1-001 showed an improvement in refractive index profiles in more than 60% of lenses. A refractive index profile is a key optical parameter that is needed to maintain high focusing capacity.

The team explained that the compound helps restore the protein organization of the lens, resulting in the lens being better able to focus. In addition, it caused a reduction in lens opacity in 46% of cases.

Prof. Pierscionek said, “This study has shown the positive effects of a compound that had been proposed as an anti-cataract drug but never before tested on the optics of the lens. It is the first research of this kind in the world.”

“It has shown that there is a remarkable difference and improvement in optics between eyes with the same type of cataract that were treated with the compound compared to those that were not,” she explained.

“Improvements occurred in some types of cataracts but not in all, indicating that this may be a treatment for specific cataracts,” Prof. Pierscionek noted.

“This suggests distinctions may need to be made between cataract types when developing anti-cataract medications,” she added. “It is a significant step forward towards treating this extremely common condition with drugs rather than surgery.”