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Recent Advances in Vision Research

With many research trends emerging, there is much to talk about for this year’s Vision Research Month. The exciting breakthroughs of the past few years, such as the scleral lens and the artificial silicon retina, has kicked off a surge of new and innovative ideas from worldwide research groups who have entered the growing field of vision research.

The Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology (ARVO) held its annual meeting at Ft. Lauderdale, Fl. In April. The meeting was attended by more than 10,000 scientists, showcasing many promising procedures and therapies that have been in development for the past few years. The following is some of the most notable advances in vision research.

Among the emerging trends in vision research is the artificial silicon retina, which can function in place of damaged photoreceptor cells in many degenerative retinal diseases. Research and development of this device is now being supported by the U.S. Department of Energy in addition to academic and private corporations.

Stem Cell research is also receiving a lot of attention. A stem cell is an immature "foundation" cell that has the ability to become almost any type of cell in the body. Many scientists believe that stem cells can be coaxed into mature photoreceptor cells that become damaged in degenerative diseases.

Gene therapy has achieved much success in treating retinal diseases. A new gene therapy technique called RNA interference prevents the release of proteins in some genes that are toxic to photoreceptor cells causing vision impairment.

While the results of these procedures have been compelling, many are still in their trial phases and will take time before they can be implemented by eyecare practitioners.

From "Community Services for the Blind and Partially Sighted

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