It’s not quite sunscreen for the eyes—but it’s not terribly far off either. Optometrists know that too much ultraviolet radiation type B (UVR-B) exposure—such as the kind patients can develop from tanning beds, overexposure to direct sunlight or even from some medical equipment—can induce anterior subcapsular cataracts.1 A new study shows that the risk can be reduced with the topical application of a specific Rho kinase (ROCK) inhibitor, presently designated Y-27632.2

The investigation was performed both in vitro using human lens epithelium (HLE)-B3 cells and in vivo using mice with UVR-B-induced cataracts. The investigators found that the responsible transforming growth factor (TGF-β2) could be successfully suppressed in a dose-dependent manner by treatment with the ROCK inhibiting drop.2 The cataracts are formed when the UVR-B exposure causes TGF-β2 signaling in the lens epithelial cells. The topical ROCK inhibitor, researchers believe, blocks that signal.2

1. Meyer L, Söderberg P, Dong X, Wegener A. UVR-B induced cataract development in C57 mice. Exp Eye Res. 2005;81(4):389-94.

2. Imaizumi T, Kurosaka D, Tanaka U, et al.  Topical administration of a ROCK inhibitor prevents anterior subcapsular cataract induced by UV-B irradiation. Exp Eye Res. 2019;181(4):145-9.