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Improving success rates for cataracts

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Improving success rates for cataracts

UEA biological science research impact 100% world leading or internationally excellent UEA biological science research impact 100% world leading or internationally excellent

UEA's world-leading biological sciences research covers the full spectrum of biology, from biomedicine and developmental biology to microbiology, biochemistry, evolutionary biology, ecology and conservation. In the latest Research Excellence Framework (REF 2014) we achieved major gains in the rankings of all our research areas. 80% of our research output and 100% of our research environment and research impact was judged to be world-leading or internationally excellent.

Case study: Improving success rates for cataracts patients

A technique to simulate cataract operations could help millions of people to see again.

Eye experts from UEA’s School of Biological Sciences developed a new tool to help put an end to sight loss that can develop after cataract surgery.

It is hoped that the research, funded by the Humane Research Trust will lead to an increase in operation success rates for sufferers worldwide.

Cataracts are cloudy patches that develop in the lens of an eye and cause blurred or misty vision. The condition leads to blindness in millions worldwide.

Cataracts are treated surgically by replacing the clouded lens with an artificial lens. More than 30 million operations per year are predicted by 2020.

But many patients are blighted by a wound-healing response to surgical trauma which causes regrowth of lens epithelial cells – known as posterior capsule opacification (PCO).

These new cells disrupt light passing through the lens and impair the patient’s vision once more. 

Lead researcher Dr Michael Wormstone said: “We used donor eyes to develop a new technique that simulates cataract operations and provides an ideal system to understand PCO biology.

“This system is now being used by scientists and industrial manufacturers to test and develop new artificial lenses for implant during cataract surgery with the aim of improving patient care.

“This technology has already served as a valuable tool in the development of a commercially available artificial lens that has improved the lives of tens of thousands of cataract patients.”

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Dr Michael Wormstone
Senior Lecturer, School of Biological Sciences

Research interests

I am a biomedical scientist with primary interests in the use of human tissue to study human eye disease. In particular, I am interested in wound-healing events that follow cataract surgery, which lead to a secondary visual loss known as posterior capsule opacification (PCO). Through the use of human tissue the laboratory aims to further our understanding of the cell and molecular mechanisms underpinning PCO and identify novel targets for future therapeutic development.

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