[ Back to EurekAlert! ] Public release date: 20-Oct-2009
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Contact: Kat Snodgrass
ksnodgrass@sfn.org
202-299-7957
Society for Neuroscience

Experimental treatments restore partial vision to blind people

Retinal prosthesis and fetal tissue transplant show promise in human studies

Two experimental treatments, a retinal prosthesis and fetal tissue transplant, restored some vision to people with blinding eye diseases. The findings, presented at Neuroscience 2009, the annual meeting of the Society for Neuroscience and the world's largest source of emerging news on brain science and health, may lead to new treatments for the blind. Researchers also reported that an engineered protein restored vision in an animal model and identified ways to improve stem cell treatments.

The new studies tested both people and animals with two degenerative eye diseases: retinitis pigmentosa and age-related macular degeneration. These diseases destroy the light-sensitive nerve cells in the retina, leading to blindness. In all, vision loss and eye disease affect 3.6 million Americans and cost the United States $68 billion each year.

Research released today shows that:

"Basic neuroscience research has formed the basis for significant progress in treating eye disease," said press conference moderator Rachel O. L. Wong, PhD, of the University of Washington, an expert on visual system development. "These studies would not be possible without technological advances and basic science research that continues to explain the normal function and development of the visual system," Wong said.

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Access the full release and study information here.

This research was supported by national funding agencies, such as the National Institutes of Health, and by private and philanthropic organizations.



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