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Laser Treatment May Work for Cataracts


2 Star

Laser Treatment May Work for Cataracts

Our Review Summary

It’s not a "treatment" until it helps a living human being.  Until then, it’s an experiment.

In a story that afforded the topic only 268 words, rather than using 23 of them to say that "the goal is a relatively simple procedure that would last half an hour at most and use largely automated equipment in mobile clinics"  – perhaps a cautious independent perspective would have helped remind people that this research wasn’t done on people – only on donor lenses.


Why This Matters

Science briefs have their merit, but not when they offer too few details to show what an extremely early stage of research this is in.


Does the story adequately discuss the costs of the intervention?

Not Applicable

Not applicable. Costs not discussed, which is understandable at this early stage of research. 

Does the story adequately quantify the benefits of the treatment/test/product/procedure?

Not Satisfactory

We’ve already told you what the story didn’t:  that this was an experiment on 9 human organ donor lenses.  But the story also didn’t say if the approach had the intended effect on all 9, half of them, or how many.  The story also didn’t capture what the researchers reported: 

"The effect of the laser treatment remained visible 1 to 2 weeks after the treatment. Continued observation was not possible due to the gradual optical deterioration of the donor lenses post mortem."

So the leap to knowing how this might work in the bodies of living people is large, despite a headline that stated, "Laser Treatment May Work For Cataracts."

Does the story adequately explain/quantify the harms of the intervention?

Not Satisfactory

You can’t say much about potential harms when all that’s been reported is an experiment on 9 human organ donor lenses.  But the story didn’t even capture what the authors wrote: 

"…many questions must be answered and many issues solved before the treatment can be used clinically, such as the effect of the treatment on the scattering properties of the lens and long term effects of the treatment on the lens as well as the rest of the eye."

Does the story seem to grasp the quality of the evidence?

Not Satisfactory

The story never explained that the experiment was done on just 9 human organ donor lenses.

Does the story commit disease-mongering?


No overt disease mongering of cataracts.

Does the story use independent sources and identify conflicts of interest?

Not Satisfactory

No independent source was quoted.

Does the story compare the new approach with existing alternatives?

Not Satisfactory

No meaningful comparison was (or perhaps could be) given between this experiment in 9 lenses and lens replacement surgery or any other experimental approach to cataracts.

Does the story establish the availability of the treatment/test/product/procedure?


The final line "much more research and development work remains" may help readers understand that this is not a readily available approach.

Does the story establish the true novelty of the approach?

Not Applicable

Not applicable.  There aren’t any claims made about novelty, but neither is there any context about any other experimental approaches to cataracts.

Total Score: 2 of 7 Satisfactory


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