Roseanne Barr made two announcements recently. She will be running for President again and she is losing her eyesight. Her situation is not rare. Glaucoma and macular degeneration are two common diseases as we get older, and the combination can be painful and lead to low vision.
Eyesight is our most dominant sense and highly important to our daily lives, which is why research into preventative measures and cures is so important. Technology has come along way and the vast majority of the causes for vision loss are treatable. Cataract surgery, for example, is one of the most common surgeries in the United States. Other common correctable impairments include short-sightedness, far-sightedness and astigmatism.
The most common incurable cause for age-related vision loss in the United States is macular degeneration. Macular degeneration and other retinal degeneration disorders pose several problems that make it difficult to cure. Each case is different from the next, and treatment varies depending on a number of factors.
The outlook is good, however, for eventually stopping or at least slowing vision loss in people suffering from these disorders. Three potential treatments attempt to solve the problem in different ways.
Gene therapy treatment is still in its nascent stages but has been successful in treating severe vision loss in human patients. The first of these studies have found that the patients’ sight restoration was short-lived. The goal of gene therapy is to correct the underlying genetic issues that lead to the cells dying in the retina.
A neuro-protection strategy aims to protect the retina from any potential threat. Since every case is different, The advantage of this potential solution is that it could protect the eye regardless of the cause.
Stem cell therapy has proven effective in restoring vision in mice. Stem cells are grown from the patient’s own tissue and transplanted into the patient.