Research Breakthrough For Maintaining Night Vision

Photo by Rahul Bhosale on Unsplash

The Study

A study in mice offers new insights into how the eyes adapt to changing conditions throughout a life cycle, and how they respond to degeneration. In the study, researchers studied a mouse model of retinitis pigmentosa, a group of diseases that causes the degeneration and loss of photoreceptor cells in the retina. This loss renders it difficult to see at night, an integral vision function necessary for the continuation of many daily activities. According to eye care innovators like Dr. Tom Chang MD, maintaining visual quality throughout the progression of a degenerative disease is an integral marker of being able to minimize the effects of the disease.

The Findings

The direct results of the conducted experiments showed that the continued degeneration of photoreceptors sparked genomic changes. These changes compensated for the loss of vision ability due to degeneration of the rod photoreceptors. They were molecular in nature, affected the retina, and increased the frequency of signaling between photoreceptors and rod bipolar cells, which connect the inner and outer retina. As these molecular changes occurred, a continued ability to see well at night was documented. Though the mice affected by retinitis pigmentosa lost over half of all photoreceptors, they maintained an appropriate night vision.

The Human Connection

The discovered compensatory molecular changes in this experiment may provide useful insight when translated to humans. This natural defense mechanism may serve to support reports that human patients with inherited retinal diseases can maintain normal standards of vision until the disease reaches a very advanced stage of progression. This connection can lead to the betterment of treatment options for various diseases that eventually lead to blindness. Understanding molecular overcompensation and changes can lead researchers to develop strategies to minimize and mitigate potential losses in vision. In turn, doing this successfully can allow affected patients to enjoy a more normalized lifestyle on a long-term basis.

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Tom Chang, MD

Tom Chang, MD

Clinician | Surgeon | Educator | Ophthalmologist