Skip to main content
  1. News
  2. Top News

Gene therapy gives sight back to those facing total blindness

See also

A trial procedure that has helped people from completely losing their sight might be able to help fight back against different causes of blindness.

According to the BBC on Jan. 15, the operation uses gene therapy, which involves a doctor inserting a gene into the back of the eye—in this case, to prevent retina cells from continuing to die. The procedure is now enjoying greater success than previously imagined possible. Professor Robert MacLaren, who lead research on the procedure, said, “We really couldn't have asked for a better result.”

The BBC reports that patients have gone into the procedure thinking that it would simply stop the blindness for getting worse, but it has actually improved their vision. The first ever patient to receive this treatment was 63 at the time said that he’s now able to read three lines lower on the optician’s chart that he could before the therapy.

Another patient noted that his color vision was remarkably improved and other patients, who were at earlier stages of vision, noted that their night vision improved. So far, only patients with choroideremia have received the treatment. With this particular condition, the light-detecting cells at the back of the eye start to die off. When a gene is injected near those cells, they no longer die.

However, Professor MacLaren believes that this success shows that gene therapy could be effective against other types of blindness, such as glaucoma and macular degeneration. As both types of these blindnesses have a genetic basis, they should be able to be prevented by gene therapy.

This is not a cure for blindness. Though patients have noted improved vision, none of them have reported completely restored vision and MacLaren says that once a certain amount of damage is done, it cannot be repaired. However, choroideremia previously had no treatment and now no longer needs to be associated with inevitable blindness.

Should further research lead to helping those with glaucoma and other blindness-causing conditions, this procedure would have the ability to significantly change lives. And as our aging population grows ever larger, this procedure could be incredibly helpful in allowing many to maintain their self-sufficiency.

Advertisement

News

  • Obama's Asia trip
    President Obama arrives in Asia, though he's not necessarily getting a warm welcome
    Video
    Watch Video
  • Ferry survivors deal with guilt
    The few heroes of the Korean ferry disaster deal with unimaginable survivor's guilt
    World News
  • Biden in Ukraine
    Vice President Biden urges Moscow to avoid further unrest in Ukraine
    Politics
  • Pujols hits 500th home run
    Albert Pujols becomes the latest player to hit 500 home runs in his career
    Camera
    Sports
  • North Korean nuclear test?
    South Korea detects another possible nuclear test from North Korea
    Headlines
  • NYPD's Twitter campaign backfires
    NYPD's campaign designed to amicably engage New Yorkers and cops backfires horribly
    Video
    Watch Video

User login

Log in
Sign in with your email and password. Or reset your password.
Write for us
Interested in becoming an Examiner and sharing your experience and passion? We're always looking for quality writers. Find out more about Examiner.com and apply today!