Curing blindness: one step closer

7:26 AM, Aug 6, 2012   |    comments
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(NBC) -- A team of researchers from UC Berkeley are one step closer to finding a cure for the blind.

It's the first breakthrough in treating blindness in mice and a big jump in curing blind humans in the future.

The study found a temporary return of vision to blind mice by injecting an ammonium chemical.

The chemical increases the sensitivity of light to the eyes which allowed the mice to see.

"It's the first sign that we can inject a chemical into the eye that will reverse the damage done to cell photo receptors which causes blindness," said Scripps Health's Dr. Sanford Feldman.

The ability to inject chemicals to cure blindness is a greater step than previous research that has been more permanent, such as gene therapy.

When the chemicals are gone, they are gone. So, if it causes a problem, you stop taking the treatment and it turns off. This will also allow us to control the dosage, giving more to those with greater degeneration,” said Feldman.

With over 3 million people affected from visual impairments, this step could be a way for Feldman to finally help the blind patients he never could help before.

"It's frustrating for an ophthalmologist to have a patient you can't help and macro degeneration is a condition you can't do much for," said Feldman. "But, what I would really like to do is bring these [blind] patients in and bring something that can really change their life and this could be the first step in bringing them that treatment."

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