New Gene Therapy Lights Up Vision

By Drs. David Niesel and Norbert Herzog, Medical Discovery News

We all need light to see, but now a new gene therapy is restoring sight to those with vision problems by figuratively lighting up their vision.

Your vision cannot process anything without light. When light comes in contact with the cornea, the transparent outer layer of the eye, it bends the rays that pass through the pupil, the dark circle in the center of the eye. The purpose of the iris, the colored part of the eye, is to make the pupil bigger or smaller to let in enough but not too much light, like a camera.

Behind the pupil is a lens that focuses the light on the retina in the back of the eye. The retina is composed of millions of cells, some called rods and cones for their distinctive shapes, whose purpose is to sense light. The cones provide sharp vision, fine details and clear colors. The rods provide the peripheral vision, vision in dim light and the ability to see motion.

The retina converts the light entering the eye into electrical impulses and sends those to the brain through the optic nerve. The brain then deciphers the electrical signals into an image we can process.
Many different diseases can affect sight, from concussions and other brain injuries to diabetes. Lifestyle choices, such as how much or how little your eyes are exposed to the sun, also affect eye health.

Of course, our genes can play a role in how strong or poor sight is as well. Take, for example, retinal pigmentosa (RP), a group of rare genetic disorders where certain genes that encode instructions for proteins are —> Read More