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News from NEI Grantees

This is a list of press releases from NEI grantee institutions highlighting the research and discovery funded by NEI. While we include as many grantee releases as possible, this is not a complete list.

In the Zinc of an Eye

January 9, 2017

NEI-funded researchers at the Boston Children’s Hospital of Harvard Medical School found that optic nerve damage frequently snowballs with unaffected neighboring cells dying alongside the injured nerve cells in the eye – and a jump in zinc levels may be to blame.

National Multisite Study Led by NYU Langone Seeks New & Innovative Ways to Treat Shingles of the Eye

November 17, 2016

NEI is funding a 5-year, 60-center clinical trial to evaluate new treatment protocols for herpes zoster ophthalmicus, a form of shingles that can seriously and permanently affect the eye.

Retinitis Pigmentosa May Be Treated by Reprogramming Sugar Metabolism

November 14, 2016

NEI-funded researchers at Columbia University Medical Center have shown that vision loss associated with a form of retinitis pigmentosa can be slowed dramatically by reprogramming the metabolism of photoreceptors, or light sensors, in the retina. The study, conducted in mice, and published in the Journal of Clinical Investigation, represents a new treatment approach.

New Findings Show Promise for Treatment of Graves’ Disease and Other Ocular Disorders

November 11, 2016

A new NEI-funded study published in The American Journal of Pathology by University of Rochester researchers shows a new class of therapies may be on the horizon for thyroid eye disease and other destructive scarring conditions.

Culprit identified as a major cause of vision loss

September 27, 2016

Researchers at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis have identified a pathway involved in harming rods and cones and have found a way to halt that damage. The findings, from studies in mice and in retinal cells, are published in the journal Cell Reports.

Handheld Device Takes High-Resolution Images of Children's Retinas

August 1, 2016

Engineers and physicians at Duke University have developed a handheld device capable of capturing images of a retina with cellular resolution. The new probe will allow researchers to gather detailed structural information about the eyes of infants and toddlers for the first time. A new paper was published online in Nature Photonics.

Pain medicine helps preserve vision in model of inherited retinal degeneration

June 27, 2016

A pain medicine that potently activates a receptor vital to a healthy retina appears to help preserve vision in an animal model of severe retinal degeneration, NEI-funded scientists at Medical College of Georgia at Augusta University report.

Researchers publish largest eye study of age-related macular degeneration in Latino population that analyzes impact on quality of life

May 3, 2016

The University of Southern California (USC) Roski Eye Institute researchers and clinicians published results of the largest population-based study of adult Latinos and age-related macular degeneration (AMD) in the NEI-funded “Los Angeles Latino Eye Study (LALES).” The study, published in JAMA Ophthalmology, is the first to analyze the risk and prevalence of early and late stage AMD and its impact on quality of life for older Latinos.

Researchers Find Immunosuppressive Medication An Effective Treatment For Ocular Graft-Versus-Host-Disease

April 13, 2016

Findings from a clinical trial funded in part by NEI and published Ophthalmology, suggest that tacrolimus is an effective therapeutic option for ocular graft-versus-host-disease without the known hypertensive effects of steroids.

Scientists reveal new target for anti-lymphangiogenesis drugs

April 12, 2016

A new study funded in part by NEI and published in Nature Communications reveals a mechanism involved in the regulation of a process called lymphangiogenesis, specifically in corneal transplants and infectious eye disease.

Largest Eye Study Among Chinese Americans Identifies More Effective Ways to Prevent and Treat Blinding Eye Diseases for This Racial Group

April 8, 2016

Researchers and clinicians at the University of Southern California Roski Eye Institute have published results of the NEI-funded “Chinese American Eye Study” in JAMA Ophthalmology. The results point to critical interventions in the prevention and treatment of blinding eye diseases, such as age-related macular degeneration and diabetic retinopathy, among Chinese Americans.

Neuronal Feedback Could Change What We “See”

March 29, 2016

The brain reacting to feedback between neurons in different parts of the visual system could explain the mechanism behind optical illusions, according to a study published in The Journal of Neuroscience by NEI-funded researchers at Carnegie Mellon University.

Nerve injury appears to be root of diabetes-related vision loss

March 23, 2016

Diabetes-related vision loss most often is blamed on blood vessel damage in and around the retina, but new research indicates that much of that vision loss may result from nerve cell injury that occurs long before any blood vessels are damaged. The finding from NEI-funded scientists at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis are published in the journal Diabetes.

IUPUI researchers use stem cells to identify cellular processes related to glaucoma

March 21, 2016

Using stem cells derived from human skin cells, researchers funded in part by NEI have successfully demonstrated the ability to turn stem cells into retinal ganglion cells, the neurons that conduct visual information from the eye to the brain. The School of Science at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis researchers' goal is to develop therapies to prevent or cure glaucoma. Their study appeared in the journal Stem Cells.

Before retinal cells die, they regenerate, Penn Vet blindness study finds

March 18, 2016

Researchers at the University of Pennsylvania showed that in a form of canine blindness retinal cells continue to differentiate for a period of time early in a dog’s life before overwhelming cell death caused the retina to degenerate. The work, funded in part by NEI, is reported in the journal BMC Genomics.

Discovery Identifies New Rx Target for Age-Related Macular Degeneration & Alzheimer’s

March 10, 2016

Researchers at LSU Health New Orleans have shown that a protein critical to the body’s ability to remove waste products from the brain and retina is diminished in age-related macular degeneration, after first making the discovery in an Alzheimer’s disease brain. The research, funded in part by NEI, was published in the journal, PLOS ONE.

New Research Links Mitochondrial Dysfunction to Development of Fuchs’ Endothelial Corneal Dystrophy (FECD), a Common Cause of Corneal Swelling and Blindness

March 3, 2016

NEI-funded researchers at Schepens Eye Research Institute of Massachusetts Eye and Ear have shown a link between mitochondrial dysfunction in corneal endothelial cells and the development of Fuchs’ Endothelial Corneal Dystrophy. This study, published in the journal, Antioxidants & Redox Signaling, is the first to demonstrate that lifelong accumulation of oxidative DNA damage leads to mitochondrial dysfunction and subsequent cell death in the tissue of the corneal endothelium.

The Brain’s Gardeners: Immune Cells ‘Prune’ Connections Between Neurons

February 19, 2016

A new study by NEI-funded researchers at the University of Rochester shows that cells normally associated with protecting the brain from infection and injury also play an important role in rewiring the connections between nerve cells. The study, published in the journal Nature Communications, sheds new light on the mechanics of neuroplasticity

Shedding Light on Inflammation–New findings show a mechanism that prevents inflammatory cells from adhering to blood vessels

February 19, 2016

Researchers from the Harvard Medical School Department of Ophthalmology and the Schepens Eye Research Institute of Mass. Eye and Ear have gained new insight into how a noninflammatory state is maintained in the body. Their findings, funded in part by NEI and published in Nature Communications, represent a new understanding of inflammation.

A day in the life of a synapse reveals new facets of the adult brain

February 4, 2016

A new study, funded in part by NEI, sheds light on the innate plasticity of the adult brain at its most fundamental level — the synapse. Researchers from the Picower Institute for Learning and Memory published in the Feb. 4 online edition of Neuron.

Ambati Laboratory Discovers New Antibody Function

January 28, 2016

An NEI-funded researcher at the University of Kentucky College of Medicine discovered with an international team a previously unrecognized function for antibodies. Their research, published in the inaugural issue of Signal Transduction and Targeted Therapy, a journal of the Nature Publishing Group, shows that the most abundant class of antibodies, known as IgG1s, also generically block blood vessel growth.

CRISPR Used to Repair Blindness-causing Genetic Defect in Patient-derived Stem Cells

January 27, 2016

Columbia University Medical Center (CUMC) and University of Iowa scientists have used a new gene-editing technology called CRISPR to repair a genetic mutation responsible for retinitis pigmentosa (RP), an inherited condition that causes the retina to degrade and leads to blindness in at least 1.5 million cases worldwide. The study was funded in part for NEI and published in Scientific Reports. It marks the first time researchers have replaced a defective gene associated with a sensory disease in stem cells that were derived from a patient’s tissue.

Drug ‘cocktail’ could restore vision in optic nerve injury

January 14, 2016

Research from Boston Children’s Hospital suggests the possibility of restoring at least some visual function in people blinded by optic nerve damage from glaucoma. As reported online by the journal Cell, the scientists restored vision in mice with optic nerve injury by using gene therapy to get the nerves to regenerate and adding a channel-blocking drug to help the nerves conduct impulses from the eye to the brain.

Researchers uncover “predictive neuron orchestra” behind looking and reaching movements

January 12, 2016

How do ensembles of neurons work together to make decisions—such as eyeing a target, then reaching for it? Different groups of neurons “predict” the body’s subsequent looking and reaching movements, suggesting an orchestration among distinct parts of the brain, a team of neuroscientists at New York University has found. The study, which appeared in the journal Nature Neuroscience, enhances our understanding of the decision-making process, potentially offering insights into different forms of mental illness in which this dynamic is typically impaired.

Gene Editing Technique Improves Vision in Rats with Inherited Blindness

January 7, 2016

A new technique that has the potential to treat inherited diseases by removing genetic defects has been shown for the first time to hinder retinitis pigmentosa, a degenerative eye disease with no known cure that can lead to blindness. A research team at the Cedars-Sinai Board of Governors Regenerative Medicine Institute used a technique known as CRISPR/Cas9 to remove a genetic mutation that causes the blindness disease. The study was published in the journal Molecular Therapy.

USC Eye Institute researchers discover a way to improve image sharpness for blind people with retinal implants

December 17, 2015

Retinal implants that deliver longer pulses of electrical current may noticeably improve image sharpness for individuals who have lost their sight due to retinitis pigmentosa, according to a new study by researchers from the USC Eye Institute and USC Viterbi School of Engineering. The research was published online December 16 in the journal Science Translational Medicine.

Novel Mechanism Identified in Cells in Close Proximity

December 15, 2015

Researchers at Florida Atlantic University are the first to show that cells in close proximity to each other can sense when a cell is dying due to environmental stressors like UV light and smoke, and eat the cell before it becomes toxic. The study was published in the Journal of Biological Chemistry,

Researchers Grow Retinal Nerve Cells in the Lab

November 30, 2015

Johns Hopkins researchers have developed a method to efficiently turn human stem cells into retinal ganglion cells, the type of nerve cells located within the retina that transmit visual signals from the eye to the brain. Death and dysfunction of these cells cause vision loss in conditions like glaucoma and multiple sclerosis. The laboratory process is described in the journal Scientific Reports.

Eye Drops Could Clear Up Cataracts Using Newly Identified Chemical

November 5, 2015

A chemical that could potentially be used in eye drops to reverse cataracts, the leading cause of blindness, has been identified by a team of scientists from UC San Francisco (UCSF), the University of Michigan (U-M), and Washington University in St. Louis (WUSTL). Reported November 5 in Science, the newly identified compound is the first that is soluble enough to potentially form the basis of a practical eye-drop medication for cataracts.

Can we unconsciously ‘hear’ distance?

October 28, 2015

Because sound travels much more slowly than light, we can often see distant events before we hear them. That is why we can count the seconds between a lightning flash and its thunder to estimate their distance. But new research from the University of Rochester, published in PLOS ONE, reveals that our brains can also detect and process sound delays that are too short to be noticed consciously. And they found that we use even that unconscious information to fine tune what our eyes see when estimating distances to nearby events.

Seeing in a New Light

October 8, 2015

An animal’s ability to perceive light incorporates many complex processes. Now, researchers at the University of California Santa Barbara have used fruit flies and mice to make novel discoveries about sensory physiology at both cellular and molecular levels that are important for light processing. Their most recent findings, which improve the scientific understanding of the signaling cascade necessary for phototransduction, appear in the journal Cell Reports.

How the Retina Marches to the Beat of Its Own Drum

September 29, 2015

Researchers at Johns Hopkins and the University of Washington report new research that sheds light on how the retina sets its own biological rhythm using a novel light-sensitive pigment, called neuropsin, found in nerve cells at the back of the eye. The new study, described in a September 21 online report in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, ushers in a more complex view of the retina.

Identified Genetic Interaction Offers Possible New Target for Glaucoma Therapy

September 10, 2015

Scientists at the University of California, San Diego School of Medicine have elucidated a genetic interaction that may prove key to the development and progression of glaucoma, a blinding neurodegenerative disease that affects tens of millions of people worldwide and is a leading cause of irreversible blindness.

New clues found to vision loss in macular degeneration​​​

August 11, 2015

Scientists at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis have identified a pathway that leads to the formation of atypical blood vessels that can cause blindness in people with age-related macular degeneration. The study is published online August 11 in the journal Nature Communications.

Inhibition of Alternative Complement Pathway Preserves Photoreceptor Cells Following Retinal Injury

July 22, 2015

Vision researchers at Massachusetts Eye and Ear/Harvard Medical School (HMS) Department of Ophthalmology have taken a first step in solving a vexing problem: how to preserve photoreceptor cells and avoid irreversible vision loss in patients following retinal detachment. Their findings were published July 22 in the journal, Science Translational Medicine.

Eye’s motion detection sensors identified

June 16, 2015

Researchers at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis have identified a neural circuit in the retina that enable the eye to detect movement. The finding could help in efforts to build artificial retinas for people who have suffered vision loss. The research is published June 16 in the online journal eLife.

A World Without Color – Researchers Find Gene Mutation That Strips Color, Reduces Vision

June 1, 2015

People with achromatopsia, an inherited eye disorder, see the world literally in black and white. Worse yet, their extreme sensitivity to light makes them nearly blind in bright sunlight. Now, researchers at University of California, San Diego School of Medicine and Shiley Eye Institute at UC San Diego Health System have identified a previously unknown gene mutation that underlies this disorder. The study published online June 1 in the journal Nature Genetics.

Mind Over Matter

May 21, 2015

Through a clinical collaboration between Caltech, Keck Medicine of University of Southern California, and Rancho Los Amigos National Rehabilitation Center, a 34-year-old paralyzed from the neck down after being shot is the first person in the world to have a neural prosthetic device implanted in a region of the brain where intentions are made.

Plugging In Your Vision's Autostabilization Feature

May 7, 2015

New research, published online May 7 in the journal Neuron, describes how axons of specialized nerve cells find their way through the brain’s maze of neurons to make the right connection. The finding has implications for treatment of eye movement disorders and regeneration of damaged vision-sensing nerve cells. The team included researchers from Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, National Institute for Basic Biology (Japan), and University of California, San Diego.

Patients with AIDS at Increased Risk of Developing Age-Related Macular Degeneration

May 4, 2015

Patients with acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS) have a four-fold increase in their risk of developing intermediate-stage age-related macular degeneration (AMD) compared to people of the same age who are not infected with HIV, according to results from the Longitudinal Study of the Ocular Complications of AIDS (LSOCA) presented today at the 2015 ARVO Annual Meeting in Denver, CO.

Rare Mutation Causes Vitamin A Deficiency and Eye Deformities

April 23, 2015

Researchers at the University of Michigan and UC Davis have solved a genetic mystery that has afflicted three unrelated families, and possibly others, for generations. These families have been plagued by a variety of congenital eye malformations, including small eyes, with poor vision, and the complete absence of eyes. But until now, no one could figure out the genetic basis for these conditions.

3D structure solved for vulnerable region of glaucoma-causing protein

April 21, 2015

Scientists at Georgia Tech have determined the three-dimensional structure of a key part of a protein that is associated with glaucoma and identified regions of this domain that correlate with severe forms of the disease. The study was featured as the cover story in the April 15 issue of the journal Human Molecular Genetics.

Stem Cell Injection May Soon Reverse Vision Loss Caused By Age-Related Macular Degeneration

April 15, 2015

An injection of stem cells into the eye may soon slow or reverse the effects of early-stage age-related macular degeneration, according to new research from scientists at Cedars-Sinai. Currently, there is no treatment that slows the progression of the disease, which is the leading cause of vision loss in people over 65.

One test can predict which kids will become nearsighted

April 2, 2015

A study of 4,500 U.S. children over 20 years has identified a single test that can predict which kids will become nearsighted by the eighth grade: a measure of their current refractive error. Findings by researchers at the College of Optometry at The Ohio State University also counter the notion that near work such as frequent reading or sitting too close to the television can bring on myopia, or nearsightedness. The research is published in the April 2, 2015, issue of the journal JAMA Ophthalmology.

LSU Health New Orleans Makes Discovery Key to Preventing Blindness and Stroke Devastation

March 9, 2015

Researchers at the Louisiana State University Neuroscience Center of Excellence have discovered gene interactions that determine whether cells live or die in such conditions as age-related macular degeneration and ischemic stroke. These common molecular mechanisms in vision and brain integrity can prevent blindness and also promote recovery from a stroke. The paper is published online in Cell Death & Differentiation.

Results challenge conventional wisdom about where the brain begins processing visual information

March 2, 2015

Neuroscientists generally think of the front end of the human visual system as a simple light detection system. Now, however, a brain imaging study—published online by the journal Nature Neuroscience on Mar. 2—challenges this basic assumption. Using high-resolution functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), a team of researchers from Vanderbilt and Boston universities, have discovered that more complex processing occurs in the initial stages of the visual system than previously thought.

Stem Cells from Wisdom Teeth Can Be Transformed into Corneal Cells–Could Potentially Be Used to Treat Corneal Scarring

Feb. 23, 2015

Stem cells from the dental pulp of wisdom teeth can be coaxed to turn into cells of the eye’s cornea and could one day be used to repair corneal scarring due to infection or injury, according to researchers at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine. The findings, published online today in STEM CELLS Translational Medicine, indicate they also could become a new source of corneal transplant tissue made from the patient’s own cells.

Tufts University Researchers Identify Mechanism Involved in Causing Cataracts in Mice

January 12, 2015

A team of scientists has established that a breakdown in communication between two biochemical pathways in the eye is involved in causing cataracts. The new information could help researchers develop pharmaceutical and dietary approaches to delaying the onset of cataracts. Scientists from the Jean Mayer USDA Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging (USDA HNRCA) at Tufts University led the study in mice and their results are published in the January 12-16 Online Early Edition of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

New research unlocks a mystery of albinism

December 16, 2014

Newly published research provides the first demonstration of how a genetic mutation associated with a common form of albinism leads to the lack of melanin pigments that characterizes the condition.

Patient’s Own Stem Cells Could Clear a Cloudy Cornea, Pitt Team Says

December 10, 2014

Treating the potentially blinding haze of a scar on the cornea might be as straightforward as growing stem cells from a tiny biopsy of the patient’s undamaged eye and then placing them on the injury site, according to mouse model experiments conducted by researchers at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine.

Elderly brains learn, but maybe too much

November 26, 2014

A new study led by Brown University reports that older learners retained the mental flexibility needed to learn a visual perception task but were not as good as younger people at filtering out irrelevant information.

Stem Cells Have Potential to Repair Diseased Corneas

September 17, 2014

Corneal transplant (keratoplasty) is a known means of successfully treating corneal disease. However, without unlimited donor corneas, researchers say there is a need to study alternate methods of treatment for eye disease and eye trauma. One method being studied at the University of Cincinnati (UC) College of Medicine is the transplantation of human umbilical cord mesenchymal stem cells (UMSC) into the cornea stroma.

New Glaucoma Culprit Is Found

September 12, 2014

In a unique study of human ocular cells, a multi-institution research team led by a biomedical engineer at Northwestern University has found a new culprit. Glaucoma appears to be a consequence of mechanical dysfunction of endothelial cells—a thin layer of cells that is the final barrier to fluid entering Schlemm's canal, from which fluid then drains from the eye.

“Haven't I Seen This Before?” Researchers Show How Neurons Respond to Sequences of Familiar Objects

August 25, 2014

A new study from Center for the Neural Basis of Cognition (CNBC), a joint project between Carnegie Mellon University and the University of Pittsburgh, reveals how neurons in the part of the brain responsible for recognizing objects respond to being shown a barrage of images. The study is published online by Nature Neuroscience.

Proteins critical to wound healing identified

August 18, 2014

Research at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis may have implications for treating diseases involving abnormal blood vessel growth, such as the impaired wound healing often seen in diabetes and the loss of vision caused by macular degeneration.

Birthdate and Outgrowth Timing Predict Cellular Mechanisms of Axon Target Matching in the Developing Visual Pathway

July 31, 2014

How axons select their appropriate targets in the brain remains poorly understood. Researchers at the University of California, San Diego explore the cellular mechanisms of axon target matching in the developing visual system by comparing four transgenic mouse lines, each with a different population of genetically labeled retinal ganglion cells (RGCs) that connect to unique combinations of brain targets.

Jackson Laboratory researchers reveal novel nature of Schlemm's canal

July 22, 2014

A Jackson Laboratory-based research team has conducted an exhaustive exploration of an eye structure known as Schlemm's canal (SC), a key gatekeeper for the proper flow of eye fluid, presenting a number of insights relevant to glaucoma and other diseases.

New compound treats both blindness, diabetes in animal studies

July 10, 2014

In a new study led by UC San Francisco (UCSF) scientists, a chemical compound designed to precisely target part of a crucial cellular quality-control network provided significant protection, in rats and mice, against degenerative forms of blindness and diabetes.

Patient-specific stem cells and personalized gene therapy

July 10, 2014

Columbia University Medical Center (CUMC) researchers have created a way to develop personalized gene therapies for patients with retinitis pigmentosa (RP), a leading cause of vision loss. The approach, the first of its kind, takes advantage of induced pluripotent stem (iPS) cell technology to transform skin cells into retinal cells, which are then used as a patient-specific model for disease study and preclinical testing.

Dodging dots helps explain brain circuitry

July 7, 2014

In a new study, Brown University neuroscientists looked cell-by-cell at the brain circuitry that tadpoles, and possibly other animals, use to avoid collisions. The study produced a model of how individual inhibitory and excitatory neurons can work together to control a simple behavior.

Researchers Regrow Human Corneas: First Known Tissue Grown from a Human Stem Cell

July 2, 2014

Boston researchers have identified a way to enhance regrowth of human corneal tissue to restore vision, using a molecule known as ABCB5 that acts as a marker for hard-to-find limbal stem cells. This work, a collaboration between the Massachusetts Eye and Ear/Schepens Eye Research Institute (Mass. Eye and Ear), Boston Children's Hospital, Brigham and Women's Hospital and the VA Boston Healthcare System, provides promise to burn victims, victims of chemical injury and others with damaging eye diseases.

Researchers Use Human Stem Cells to Create Light—Sensitive Retina in a Dish

June 10, 2014

Using a type of human stem cell, Johns Hopkins researchers say they have created a three-dimensional complement of human retinal tissue in the laboratory, which notably includes functioning photoreceptor cells capable of responding to light, the first step in the process of converting it into visual images.

JHU Biologists Identify New Neural Pathway in Eyes that Aids in Vision

May 21, 2014

A type of retina cell plays a more critical role in vision than previously known, a team led by Johns Hopkins University researchers has discovered. Working with mice, the scientists found that the ipRGCs — an atypical type of photoreceptor in the retina — help detect contrast between light and dark, a crucial element in the formation of visual images.

IU School of Optometry study: New technique detects microscopic diabetes-related eye damage

April 17, 2014

Indiana University researchers have detected new early-warning signs of the potential loss of sight associated with diabetes. This discovery could have far-reaching implications for the diagnosis and treatment of diabetic retinopathy, potentially impacting the care of over 25 million Americans.

Clinical Trial Uses Gene Therapy to Target Mutations in Mitochondrial Genes

April 2, 2014

A multidisciplinary research team of scientists, clinicians and biostatisticians led by John Guy, M.D., professor of ophthalmology and director of the ocular gene therapy laboratory at the Bascom Palmer Eye Institute of the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine, has pioneered a gene therapy approach for Leber Hereditary Optic Neuropathy (LHON), an inherited genetic disorder that causes rapid, permanent, and bilateral loss of vision in people of all ages, but primarily men ages 20-40.

Motion-Sensing Cells in the Eye Let the Brain 'Know' About Directional Changes

March 3, 2014

In a detailed study of the neurons linking the eyes and brains of mice, biologists at UC San Diego discovered that the ability of our brains and those of other mammals to figure out and process in our brains directional movements is a result of the activation in the cortex of signals that originate from the direction-sensing cells in the retina of our eyes.

In the eye of a chicken, a new state of matter comes into view

February 24, 2014

The unusual arrangement of cells in a chicken's eye constitutes the first known biological occurrence of a potentially new state of matter known as “disordered hyperuniformity,” according to researchers from Princeton University and Washington University in St. Louis. Research in the past decade has shown that disordered hyperuniform materials have unique properties when it comes to transmitting and controlling light waves, the researchers report in the journal Physical Review E.

Mystery Behind Galileo's Visual Illusion Discovered

February 11, 2014

A study at SUNY Optometry advances our understanding of how our brains are wired for seeing white versus black objects.

A short stay in darkness may heal hearing woes

February 5, 2014

Call it the Ray Charles Effect: a young child who is blind develops a keen ability to hear things that others cannot. Researchers have long known this can happen in the brains of the very young, which are malleable enough to re-wire some circuits that process sensory information. Now researchers at the University of Maryland and Johns Hopkins University have overturned conventional wisdom, showing the brains of adult mice can also be re-wired to compensate for a temporary vision loss by improving their hearing.

In the brain, the number of neurons in a network may not matter

February 3, 2014

A new study indicates that it may be possible to accurately characterize complete neural networks by recording the activity of properly selected samples of 50 neurons or less - an alternative that is much easier to realize. The study was performed by a team of cognitive neuroscientists at Vanderbilt University and reported in a paper published the week of Feb. 3 in the online Early Edition of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Visual System Can Retain Plasticity, Even After Extended Early Blindness

January 27, 2014

Deprivation of vision during critical periods of childhood development has long been thought to result in irreversible vision loss. Now, researchers from the Schepens Eye Research Institute/Massachusetts Eye and Ear, Harvard Medical School (HMS) and Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) have challenged that theory by studying a unique population of pediatric patients who were blind during these critical periods before removal of bilateral cataracts.

Expanding our view of vision

January 26, 2014

Every time you open your eyes, visual information flows into your brain, which interprets what you're seeing. Now, for the first time, MIT neuroscientists have noninvasively mapped this flow of information in the human brain with unique accuracy, using a novel brain-scanning technique.

Parkinson's drugs could provide new avenue to treat diabetes-related vision problems

January 21, 2014

Dopamine-restoring drugs already used to treat Parkinson's disease may also be beneficial for the treatment of diabetic retinopathy, a leading cause of blindness in adults, Emory University researchers have discovered. The results were published recently in Journal of Neuroscience.

Light Exposure During Pregnancy Key to Normal Eye Development

January 16, 2014

Scientists say the unexpected finding offers a new basic understanding of fetal eye development and ocular diseases caused by vascular disorders - in particular one called retinopathy of prematurity that can blind premature infants. The research, led by scientists at Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center and UCSF, was published online Jan. 16 in Nature.

Two players produce destructive cascade of diabetic retinopathy

January 13, 2014

“It's a cascade that requires two players to signal the next event that causes the damage,” said Dr. Ruth Caldwell, cell biologist at the Vascular Biology Center at the Medical College of Georgia (MCG) at Georgia Regents University. The good news is the finding also provides two new points for intervention, said Dr. Modesto Rojas, MCG postdoctoral fellow and first author of the study in the journal PLOS ONE.

Study identifies potential new strategy to improve odds of corneal transplant acceptance

December 30, 2013

For the estimated 10 percent of patients whose bodies reject a corneal transplant, the odds of a second transplant succeeding are poor. All that could change, however, based on a UT Southwestern Medical Center study that has found a way to boost the corneal transplant acceptance rate.

Critical Gene In Retinal Development And Motion Sensing Identified

October 31, 2013

Our vision depends on exquisitely organized layers of cells within the eye's retina, each with a distinct role in perception. Johns Hopkins researchers say they have taken an important step toward understanding how those cells are organized to produce what the brain “sees.”

New Eye Treatment Effective in Laboratory Tests

October 23, 2013

A promising technique for treating human eye disease has proven effective in preclinical studies and may lead to new treatments to prevent blindness, according to experiments conducted at The Scripps Research Institute (TSRI) in La Jolla, California.

Penn Researchers Take First Step Toward a Macular Dystrophy Gene Therapy

October 16, 2013

Researchers report “encouraging” findings that mark the first clear step in developing a gene therapy that could prevent vision loss or even restore vision in individuals with Best disease.

Tufts researchers identify potential topical treatment for macular degeneration

October 9, 2013

The research findings, published today in PLOS ONE, are the first to report successful topical use of a compound capable of inhibiting symptoms associated with both dry AMD (the earlier form) and wet AMD (the rarer, later form) and could represent a breakthrough for treatment of these conditions.

Therapeutic Eye Injections May Be Needed Less Often–Time-release coating allows drug for macular degeneration to last longer

August 21, 2013

Johns Hopkins biomedical engineers have teamed up with clinicians to create a new drug-delivery strategy for a type of central vision loss caused by blood vessel growth at the back of the eye, where such growth should not occur.

Dr. Ed Levine Researches Key “Retina-Building Gene”

August 21, 2013

Retinal diseases are the leading cause of blindness in adults aged 60 and over, affecting millions of people worldwide. Pioneering research at the Levine Laboratory, Moran Eye Center, University of Utah is providing scientists with a new understanding of how the retina develops from conception to birth.

Gene Regulator Is Key to Healthy Retinal Development and Good Vision in Adulthood

August 13, 2013

Scientists are developing a clearer picture of how visual systems develop in mammals. The findings offer important clues to the origin of retinal disorders later in life.

Protein Key Found for Adults to Re-Learn How to See

August 08, 2013

A new discovery by a University of Maryland-led research team offers hope for treating “lazy eye” and other serious visual problems that are usually permanent unless they are corrected in early childhood.

Recycling in the eye promotes good vision

July 18, 2013

Researchers at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis and St. Jude Children's Research Hospital in Memphis have found that good vision depends, at least in part, on a recycling process in the eye that mops up cellular debris and reuses light-sensitive proteins.

UCSB Study Shows Where Scene Context Happens in our Brain

May 20, 2013

Over the millennia of human evolution, our brains developed a pattern of search based largely on environmental cues and scene context.

Hit a 95 mph baseball? Scientists pinpoint how we see it coming

May 8, 2013

For the first time, vision scientists at the University of California, Berkeley, have pinpointed how the brain tracks fast-moving objects.

Lost your keys? Your cat? The brain can rapidly mobilize a search party

April 22, 2013

When we embark on a targeted search, various visual and non-visual regions of the brain mobilize to track down a person, animal or thing.

One-two Punch Could Be Key in Treating Blindness

April 9, 2013

Researchers have discovered that using two kinds of therapy in tandem may be a knockout combo against inherited disorders that cause blindness.

Wisconsin Study Eyes Better Results for Aging Population

March 25, 2013

A 20-year study of almost 5,000 residents of Beaver Dam, Wis. has some good news - the eye health of older Americans is improving.

Glaucoma Check-Ups Lag in Hispanics

December 12, 2012

The odds of individuals with open-angle glaucoma undergoing visual field testing decreased for all racial/ethnic groups from 2001 through 2009, but the odds decreased the most for Hispanic men and women in a study of enrollees in a large U.S. managed care network.

Cells from Skin Create Model of Blinding Eye Disease

December 10, 2012

For the first time, University of Wisconsin researchers have taken skin from patients and, using induced pluripotent stem cell technology, turned them into a laboratory model for an inherited type of macular degeneration.

Research On Blood Vessel Proteins Holds Promise for Controlling 'Blood-Brain Barrier'

December 7, 2012

Working with mice, Johns Hopkins researchers have shed light on the activity of a protein pair found in cells that form the walls of blood vessels in the brain and retina, experiments that could lead to therapeutic control of the blood-brain barrier and of blood vessel growth in the eye.

Researchers See The Light in Bid to Restore Lost Vision

December 5, 2012

Researchers at the University of Illinois at Chicago and the University of California at Los Angeles recently created a light-sensitive molecule that they say could help restore vision lost in degenerative eye diseases, such as macular degeneration, and reduce epileptic seizures.

Rosemary May Help Prevent Eye Disease

November 27, 2012

A substance in rosemary may have clinical applications for diseases affecting the retina, including age-related macular degeneration, U.S. researchers say. Dr. Stuart A. Lipton and colleagues at Sanford-Burnham Medical Research Institute said carnosic acid, a component of the herb rosemary, promotes eye health.

Immunity May Play Role in Eye Disease

November 27, 2012

“Our findings are epigenetic in nature, meaning that the underlying DNA is normal but gene expression has been modified, likely by environmental factors, in an adverse way,” Dr. Robert Nussenblatt, chief of the National Eye Institute Laboratory of Immunology, part of the National Institutes of Health, said in a statement.

Architecture of Rod Sensory Cilium Disrupted By Mutation

November 21, 2012

Using a new technique called cryo-electron tomography, two research teams at Baylor College of Medicine have created a three-dimensional map that gives a better understanding of how the architecture of the rod sensory cilium (part of one type of photoreceptor in the eye) is changed by genetic mutation and how that affects its ability to transport proteins as part of the light-sensing process.

Neurons Made From Stem Cells Drive Brain Activity after Transplantation

November 15, 2012

Researchers at Sanford-Burnham Medical Research Institute have found a way to stimulate stem cell-derived neurons to direct cognitive function after transplantation to an existing neural network by using optogenetic stimulation - getting us a step closer to using these cells to treat Alzheimer's disease and other neurodegenerative conditions.

Engineering a Photo-Switch for Nerve Cells in the Eye and Brain

November 14, 2012

Chemists and vision scientists at the University of Illinois at Chicago have designed a light-sensitive molecule that can stimulate a neural response in cells of the retina and brain—a possible first step to overcoming degenerative eye diseases like age-related macular degeneration, or to quieting epileptic seizures.

Study Examines Genetics, Incidence of Age-Related Macular Degeneration

November 9, 2012

Dr. Ronald Klein, of the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health, and colleagues describe the relationship of age and risk alleles (variant gene forms) with the incidence and progression of age-related macular degeneration (AMD) during a 20-year period. They conclude the overall five-year incidence of early AMD was 9.1 percent and late AMD was 1.6 percent.