Friday, April 27, 2012
Medical Reports: Restore Vision
Every day people lose their precious eyesight to a common eye disease. Now there's groundbreaking research that could help restore vision. 7's Diana Diaz has this eye on progress.
WSVN -- Many of us take our sight for granted until we are threatened with losing it.
Yvette Richardson: "If I have to live without my eyes, I don't know what I would do."
Losing her eye sight is a real possibility for Yvette Richardson. Right now, the 48-year-old actually has perfect vision but she knew something was not right with her eyes.
Yvette Richardson: "After doing a lot of reading and studying, the muscles in my eye wouldn't stay open. They were red, extremely inflamed."
Doctors diagnosed Yvette with glaucoma, a very common eye disease which often leads to blindness.
Dr. Jeffrey Goldberg: "It damages the optic nerve, which is the connection in the back of the eye, between the eye and the brain."
Yvette Richardson: "Very much concerned about my eyes cause I definitely don't want to go blind."
For years, doctors have treated glaucoma by trying to lower eye pressure with either medications or surgery.
Now researchers at Bascom Palmer Eye Institute are researching ways to stop or even reverse the damage to the optic nerve.
Dr. Jeffrey Goldberg: "The overall hope here is we can devise a treatment that not only blocks the loss of vision that happens with glaucoma, and blocks the progression of the disease. But maybe actually restores vision."
Their hope lies in this tiny little white implant which holds important proteins called CNTF.
Dr. Jeffrey Goldberg: "CNTF is like a survival factor. It's like a booster shot for the cells inside your eye and for the optic nerve."
During a quick 15 minute surgery, they insert the implant in the whites of the eye and the implant starts pumping out the CNTF into the eye.
Dr. Jeffrey Goldberg: "The CNTF stimulates the cells inside the eye to survive even if they are getting injured and to regrow back from the eye."
Ken Smith is one of a handful of glaucoma patients in the clinical trial. It's only been six months but he says he already sees progress.
Ken Smith: "I still have fuzziness in the left eye, but as compared to what it used to be, it's better. So that gives me promise that it will continue to get better."
Only time will tell if it works but these patients have their eyes focused on the future.
Diana Diaz: "This particular clinical trial is full, but they will be starting other similar trials later this year."
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