Therapy could improve and prolong sight in those suffering vision loss
Wednesday, March 13, 2019
Millions of Americans are progressively losing their sight as cells in their eyes deteriorate, but a new therapy developed by researchers at the University of California, Berkeley, could help prolong useful vision and delay total blindness.
The treatment—involving either a drug or gene therapy—works by reducing the noise generated by nerve cells in the eye, which can interfere with vision much the way tinnitus interferes with hearing. UC Berkeley neurobiologists have already shown that this approach improves vision in mice with a genetic condition, retinitis pigmentosa, that slowly leaves them blind.
Reducing this noise should bring images more sharply into view for people with retinitis pigmentosa and other types of retinal degeneration, including the most common form, age- related macular degeneration.
"This isn't a cure for these diseases, but a treatment that may help people see better. This won't put back the photoreceptors that have died, but maybe give people an extra few years of useful vision with the ones that are left," said neuroscientist Richard Kramer, a professor of molecular and cell biology at UC Berkeley. "It makes the retina work as well as it possibly can, given what it has to work with. You would maybe make low vision not quite so low."
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