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Eye News Roundup – June, Week 4

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Eye News Roundup – June, Week 4

1: How is it Even Possible – A Blind Woman Who Can See Motion?

No, this is not out of the script of a sci-fi flick; this is real, irrespective of how unlikely you find it to be true. A Scottish woman suffered from a stroke, which resulted in damaging the visual processing centers of her brain, leaving her blind. However, despite her blindness, she was able to see objects in motion, as reported by a team of neuroscientists at the University of Western Ontario.

This rare event compelled Jody Culham of the University of Western Ontario and her fellow neuroscientists run through the most extensive analysis and brain mapping of a blind person ever done to date in a bid to comprehend the factors contributing to this odd phenomenon in Milena Canning, a 48-year old Scottish lady.

A respiratory infection followed by a series of strokes led Canning to lose her vision 18 years ago. She woke up blind after 8 weeks in coma, but to her surprise, she was able to have a glint of a sparkly gift bag, much like a flashing green light.

This was just the beginning though. Sporadically, she was able to view other objects as well, but only when motion was involved; for example, catching a glimpse of her daughter’s bobbing ponytail when she walked (but not her face), raindrops trickling down through a window, but never the water filled tub, and so forth.

Long story short, further exploration by Culham’s team, including fMRI (functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging) for real time examination of Canning’s structure and function of the brain, pointed towards a rare phenomenon, Riddoch syndrome, enabling a blind person consciously see a moving object rather than a stationary one.

To better serve your curiosity, visit ScienceDaily to know more of this intriguing story.

2: Thanks to a New Glaucoma Test – Treatment Can Begin Before Deterioration of Vision Starts

Approximately 60 million people across the globe suffer from Glaucoma, a condition resulting from the death of retina cells lining the back of the eye.

A new test tends to revolutionize the whole scenario surrounding glaucoma and loss of vision due to this inflicting eye disease. In addition to early diagnosis of glaucoma, this test can potentially also help diagnose certain other degenerative neurological conditions, such as multiple sclerosis, Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s.

Experts are calling this new technique ‘DARC’ (Detection of Apaptosing Retinal Cells), which relies on a special fluorescent marker capable of attaching to cell proteins after it’s injected into the patients. This results in appearance of unhealthy cells as white fluorescent spots during an eye examination, reflecting the presence of glaucoma in a person.

This new test was developed under the supervision of Professor Francesca Cordeiro associated with the Ophthalmology Institute of the University College London. According to him, this is the very first time researchers have been able to track the death of individual cells, detecting the symptoms of glaucoma significantly earlier than deterioration of vision really kicks in.

This story is covered in detail by Jon von Radowitz in INDEPENDENT, if you are intrigued about further details.

3: Spontaneous Regeneration within the Immune Cells of Retina – An Interesting Development to Slow Down Progression of Retinal Diseases like AMD and RP

In a recent study, researchers have recorded complete repopulation of immune cells found in the retina of mice, microglia, after being almost totally wiped out.

This new study carried out by the researchers at the National Eye Institute (NEI), holds immense potential in advancing therapies to control retinal inflammation to slow down the progression of retinal diseases like RP (Retinitis Pigmentosa) and AMD (Age-related Macular Degeneration), currently the most common cause of blindness within American population aged 50 and above.

Not only did the microglia regenerate spontaneously after almost being totally eliminated, but the cells were also observed to successfully reestablish normal function and organization within the retina of mice.

Study’s lead investigator, Wai T Wong, a senior M.D. and Ph.D. researcher heading the NEI Section on Neuron-Glia Interaction in Retinal Diseases revealed that they conducted the research to better understand ways of controlling the immune system in retina because of its significance in developing contemporary treatments for a host of eye conditions like RP, AMD and certain other types of retinal injuries.

Earlier studies have already shown that inhibition or removal of microglia in AMD, RP and other such degenerative retinal diseases can signify the retention of photoreceptors, thus slowing down vision loss. However, to support the retina’s neurons, return of microglia is still considered as the most influential factor.

These new findings will surely help researchers advance their fight against vision loss due to retinal degenerative diseases like AMD and RP.

4: Identification of 161 Genetic Factors for Myopia

A recent study, presumably the largest genetic one till date about myopia, published in ‘Nature Genetics’, claims to have identified 161 unexplored genetic factors for myopia. It was published by CREAM (The International Consortium for Refractive Error and Myopia).

These 161 recently identified genetic factors for myopia raise the number of previously known such factors by almost 4 times, most of them involved in processing of light within retina. This also supports previously held notion that insufficient sunlight also has a significant role to play in triggering the development of myopia.

Myopia, or shortsightedness, as it is known otherwise, is one of the most common eye diseases affecting vision in millions around the world, and unfortunately, it is on the rise as well.

So, further studies like this are quite imperative in order to curtain such eye disorders capable of leading millions to total vision loss.

Get more on the story at ScienceDaily.

5: Elimination of Trachoma, World’s Leading Cause of Blindness – Mexico Deserves Applause

Katie Forster of ‘INDEPENDENT’ brings this story to us, a real achievement for Mexico, to be the very first country in Americas to totally eliminate Trachoma. It is a seriously infectious eye disease believed to be responsible for inflicting blindness or vision loss in approximately 1.9 million people worldwide.

It is still considered to be a serious public health concern among 41 economically strangled nations of the world including Colombia, Guatemala and Brazil.

This eye disease is known for damaging inner surface of the eyelids, roughening them to trouble the vision of the affected persons.

Mexico’s triumphant run against it proves to be a huge milestone in combating issues regarding eye health of world population, a huge motivation for other countries of the world to follow its lead.

INDEPENDENT has more on this remarkable victory for you.