Edinburgh Biosciences aim to revolutionize cataract diagnosis and treatment

Edinburgh Biosciences Ltd (EBS) was formed in 2013 as a spin-out from Edinburgh Instruments (EI) by Prof S. Desmond Smith, OBE, FRS, FRSE, F. InstP who originally founded EI in 1971.

Recent research and development work at EBS has focused on developing new technologies to improve cataract diagnosis and provide an alternative to surgery by non-invasive treatment. Following the successful completion of EU ICT Funded Project CATACURE with 6 European partners, EBS are looking to further the technology development and aim to progress through human clinical trials towards a global solution for cataract.

Cataract Diagnosis and Treatment

Cataracts are caused by a build-up of excess proteins in the eye which causes the patients vision to become cloudy. This build up is caused by a number of factors including excess UV sunlight exposure, diabetes, and most commonly increased age. Cataracts are currently diagnosed by a specialist eye doctor and are graded based on how bad the cloudiness is and as such diagnosis is late, once a persons vision is being affected.

New technology developed by EBS will provide earlier diagnosis by looking closely at specific fluorescent signals from the proteins in the eye and calculating how far along the cataracts are progressing. By diagnosing cataracts earlier it will be possible to implement life changes (eg better manage diabetes, reduce UV sunlight exposure etc) which could delay the development of the cataracts. It could also allow for effective trials of potential new treatments to be monitored.

This new diagnosis method would be simple enough that it could even be carried out in high street opticians meaning everyone could be checked for cataracts alongside their standard eye check-up.

At present cataracts are only treatable by surgery to remove the cloudy lens within the eye and replacing it with a plastic version. This plastic version doesn’t allow a person to focus in the same way as a natural lens and therefore people require different glasses for short, medium and long distances. Surgery is normally only carried out when vision is severely affected and is not without risk as it can lead to complications, sometimes as serious as sight loss.

At EBS we are developing an alternative to surgery where the patient can keep their own lens and therefore its focusing ability.