The British researchers have recently shown that gene therapy might blindness reverse blindness by reprogramming cells at the back of the eye to become light sensitive. Most causes of untreatable blindness occur due to loss of the millions of light sensitive photoreceptor cells that line the retina, similar to the pixels in a digital camera. The remaining retinal nerve cells, which are not light sensitive, however remain in the eye.
Lead researcher Samantha de Silva said, “There are many blind patients in our clinics and the ability to give them some sight back with a relatively simple genetic procedure is very exciting.”
The team has also been trailing an electronic retina successfully in blind patients, but the genetic approach may have advantages in being simpler to administer.