A report that aspirin may slow the progression of senile cataracts caused much excitement at the recent American Academy of Ophthalmology meeting in Chicago.
In an exhibit presented at that meeting, Edward Cotlier, MD, professor of ophthalmology at Yale University School of Medicine, New Haven, Conn, summarized several retrospective studies suggesting that salicylate may retard cataract formation. The probable mechanism is, at least in part, the reduction of plasma tryptophan levels.
A prospective study, which will test this and perhaps other hypotheses about the effect of aspirin on senile cataracts, will begin soon.
Cotlier and associates previously demonstrated binding of tryptophan or its metabolite kynurenine to lens protein in human senile cataracts and showed that this was associated with elevated levels of the amino acid in patients with cataracts as opposed to patients with aphakia and clear lenses (Lancet 1980;1:607).
In their latest report, they presented data showing that