Morphological and biophysical techniques described in this study have shown that membrane derangement occurs in human cataractous lenses. The data suggest that these disruptions were globules, vacuoles, multilamellar membranes and clusters of highly undulating membranes. Deleterious structural damage of the lens fibre cell plasma membranes serve as the primary light-scattering centres that cause the observed lens opacity. Nuclear cataract, a major cause of loss of lens transparency in the aging human, has been thought to be associated with oxidative damage, particularly at the site of the nuclear plasma membrane. Phospholipid molecules modified by oxygen accumulate in the lipid bilayer, change its geometry and impair lipid-lipid and protein-lipid interactions in lenticular fibre membranes. Lipid peroxidation (LPO) is a causative and pathogenic factor in cataract. Increased concentrations of primary molecular LPO products (diene conjugates, lipid hydroperoxides, oxy-derivatives of phospholipid fatty acids) and end-fluorescent LPO products have been detected in the lipid moieties of aqueous humour samples and human lenses obtained from patients with senile and complicated cataracts as compared with normal donors. In the present study, a rapid and simple high-performance liquid chromatographic (HPLC) assay for determination of imidazole-containing dipeptides in the aqueous humour of the eye was developed. The method was applied to determine the pharmacokinetic parameters and the time-course of N-acetylcarnosine and L-carnosine-related product in the eye, following a single dosage of topical ocular administration of peptide. Utilising data from pharmacokinetic studies and the specific purity of the N-acetylcarnosine (NAC) ingredient as a source of the pharmacological principle L-carnosine, we have created an ophthalmic time-release prodrug form including the US FDA-approved carboxymethylcellulose lubricant and other essential ingredients (Can-C, private label Nu-Eyes). This formulation increases the intraocular absorption of L-carnosine in the aqueous humour and optimises its specific antioxidant activity in vivo while reducing the toxic effects of lipid peroxides on the crystalline lens. L-carnosine that enters the aqueous humour can accumulate in the lens tissue for a reasonable period of time. The presence of L-carnosine in transparent crystalline lenses during normal aging was detected and its concentration in this case was about 25 microM. At different stages of cataract development, the level of L-carnosine drastically decreased, reaching about 5 microM in ripe human cataracts. However, administration of pure L-carnosine (1% solution) to the rabbit eye (instillation or subconjunctival injection) does not lead to accumulation of this natural compound in the aqueous humour at the time level over 30 minutes at a concentration exceeding that in placebo-treated matched eyes, and its effective concentration is exhausted more rapidly. Use of NAC prodrug eye drops optimises the clinical effects of L-carnosine in the treatment of ophthalmic disorders (such as prevention and reversal of cataracts in human and animal [canine] eyes). The data provided predict a clinical effect with NAC ophthalmic prodrug, and show that the magnitude and duration of this effect are directly related to the bioavailability of L-carnosine released from NAC in the aqueous humour of the anterior eye segment. The ophthalmic NAC drug shows promise in the treatment of a range of ophthalmic disorders that have a component of oxidative stress in their pathogenesis (including cataract, glaucoma, dry eye, vitreous floaters, inflammatory disorders, and corneal, retinal and systemic diseases [such as diabetes mellitus and its ophthalmic complications]). There is a need for further and better collaboration between Innovative Vision Products' cataract control and ophthalmic services, improved education of people affected by cataract, a commitment that N-acetylcarnosine eye drops will be the preferred treatment before orthodox cataract surgery is attempted, and consideration of outcomes and a possible role of the NAC drug cataract treatment as source of referral for orthodox surgical, ophthalmic and optometric services.