According to the Medical College of Wisconsin over two thirds of people over the age of sixty will have a vision problem due to cataracts (Bhavna, 2006). This and other eye ailments constitute a major portion of the population who suffer from these eye conditions. Also, research conducted by the John Hopkins University School of Medicine estimates that in 1991 cataract surgery cost nearly $2,500 per person not including the $3.4 billion that Medicare spent in 1991 for these corrective procedures. Today cataract surgery costs around $3,000 per individual but price can vary based on the maturity of the cataract, type of cataract removal surgery, and choice of lens replacement.
Currently there is research being conducted to investigate if vitamin C is helpful in protecting the eye cells from oxidative damage caused by ultraviolet light, which is believed to be a cause for cataracts (Lee, 2007). Oxidative damage or oxidation produces free radicals, which damage the cells and can play a role in many diseases. Free radicals are highly reactive molecules that upset the normal metabolism of the cell and are believed to be responsible for diseases, such as cancer and to initiate effects of aging (Antioxidants and free radicals, 1996). Free radicals are a result of the internal metabolism of the cell and external factors such as ultraviolet light, smoking, and drugs (Sharma, 1998). Antioxidants help prevent this oxidative damage from occurring. Antioxidants are molecules that interact with the free radicals and destroy the chain reaction before the cell is damaged (Antioxidants and free radicals, 1996).
The purpose of this experiment was to determine the effect of vitamin C and glutathione and various UV protecting lens types on the cell viability of eye cells after exposure to UV light. Antioxidants, such as vitamin C or glutathione, may be able to help prevent cataracts and vision loss due to ultraviolet radiation and oxidation caused by the ultraviolet light (Sharma, 1998). The results of this research could prevent or slow the progression of thses eye conditions because the damage incurred by the ultravioloet light is believed to be caused by free radicals or oxidation and if antioxidants are used, they could prevent or slow down this oxidative damage that render some peopel blind and force others to resort to expensive surgery.