Macular Degeneration and Other Retinal Diseases
Age-related macular degeneration is a leading cause of blindness in older Americans. It's vitally important to learn how genes behave in healthy retinas as opposed to how genes behave in retinas that are diseased with macular degeneration.
Although the macula makes up only 3 percent of the retina, 60 percent of the brain’s capacity for vision is devoted to getting information from that area. The macula includes a densely packed layer of photoreceptors, which, in the case of patients with this disease, are dying. Without healthy macula photoreceptors, a patient will lose central vision.
Macular Degeneration Studies
Many major studies are being conducted to better understand the causes and to develop effective treatments for all types and stages of macular degeneration. National Clinical Trials include VEGF trap treatment for age related macular degeneration and an Age Related Eye Disease Study.
Gene Therapy and Diabetic Retinopathy
Gene therapy presents possibilities across many retinal diseases. Mina Chung, M.D. has a keen interest in the genetic causes of diabetes and diabetic retinopathy, known to be more prevalent and more severe in African-American and Hispanic-American populations.
The University’s Center for Visual Science has developed an instrument using the principles of adaptive optics to image the retina at extremely high resolutions. For the first time, ophthalmologists are now able to visualize single cones in the retina. This advancement may greatly enhance diagnosis of diabetic retinopathy, which is a vascular disease of the retina. Patients with macular diseases, including macular degeneration and inherited macular dystrophies, may also benefit from this new retinal imaging technique.
Dr. Chung and her team currently are recruiting patients with macular degeneration, color vision abnormalities, inflammations, and inherited diseases of the macula for imaging to see if they can find changes in these patients’ retinal cones.
Areas of Laboratory Research
- Macular telengectasia
- Diabetic retinopathy
- Age-related macular degeneration
- Retinal pigment epithelium
- Retinal ganglion cell function
- Histopathology using both light and electron microscopy
- Confocal microscopy
- Two-photon imaging of the retina
- Cell culture
- Adenoviral labeling of Müller cells
- Patch clamp recordings of retinal neurons