Near infra-red light can heal damaged vision

April 20th, 2011 - 1:37 pm ICT by IANS  

Sydney, April 20 (IANS) Applying gentle near-infra-red light can undo damage caused by exposure to bright light, which may end in vision loss otherwise.

Krisztina Valter of the Vision Centre and doctoral researcher Rizalyn Albarracin have successfully shown recovery of vision cells in the retina following near-infra-red treatment after damage was sustained.

Albarracin said that a few minutes of exposing the retina to soft near-infra-red light a day for less than a week produced a remarkable recovery in damaged photoreceptors (vision cells) which ordinarily would have died.

“You only have one set of vision cells, so if you lose them, they can never be replaced. When they are damaged or stressed, they shut down and gradually die or kill themselves,” says Albarracin, the journal Investigative Ophthalmology and Vision Science reports.

“You get a horrible ‘hot spot’ of dying cells in your retina, which gradually spreads out in a sort of domino effect until your vision is gone,” she explains, according to a Vision Science statement.

Their advance has raised hopes for the development of a low-cost and painless treatment for damaged eyes, including dry macular degeneration (dry AMD) — the most common cause of blindness in developed countries.

“The dry form (of macular degeneration), for which there is still no cure, accounts for 80-90 percent of cases,” says Valter of the Vision Centre and Australian National University.

“Our research shows clear evidence of recovery of vision cells from light damage, a good model for what happens in dry AMD.

“The retina looks really sick - but then it just bounces back. It’s almost a kind of a resurrection,” says Albarracin.

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