The treatment of hereditary retinal disease has progressed by leaps and bounds over the last couple of years. Diseases that were once guaranteed to cause blindness now can be slowed down or cured. These tremendous strides in treatment options give people hope, and new research leads to a new wave of affordable treatments that make retinal blindness a thing of the past.
These options are made possible by the hard work and funding that various people and foundations put into testing and research. Some of the most recent studies that have been shown to positively impact the progress of retinal disease have been in the following areas:
Gene therapies have shown a lot of promise when it comes to retinal diseases. As doctors and researchers identify genes that cause illnesses, they can use this knowledge to manipulate the genes that are causing problems.
Gene mapping is an essential starting point in fighting retinal disease; it’s hard to fight an illness when you don’t know exactly what you are dealing with. Researchers are starting to figure out what genes are responsible for specific illnesses, and this allows them to focus their research efforts in the right places.
Gene therapy is different from gene mapping; when it comes to gene therapy, doctors replace sick genes with healthy ones. When they do this successfully, it’s a powerful treatment for retinal disease; the doctors cure genetically caused malfunctions by replacing the genes that cause the problems in the first place.
Researchers have made breakthroughs in curing retinal disease by adding healthy cells to a sick retina; this helps to restore lost vision, and it helps stops diseases in their tracks. A quick look at Steve Wynn’s profile and you can see that he founded Michael M. Wynn Center for Inherited Retinal Diseases to aid in this research. Some of the studies are looking for a way to grow these cells outside of the body; if this can be done successfully, researchers and doctors will have an abundance of healthy cells that they can use for a transplant procedure.
Other major studies are concentrating on the transplant procedure instead of concentrating on where to get the cells from. This is good for patients, because breakthroughs in both of these areas will give them more options when it comes to cell transplants.
Creating Retinal Cells From Skin Cells
There’s been promising research in the field of transforming skin cells into retinal cells. This type of therapy is still in the first phases of research, but if it can be done successfully, it will give doctors access to as many retinal cells as they need.
The process breaks a person’s skin cells down into stem cells. Stem cells are the building block of all cells, and researchers can use them to build retinal cells. This approach would give patients the ability to grow new healthy cells that can be used to correct genetic defects.
Using Nutrition And Supplements To Fight Disease
Vitamins and supplements can be used to rebuild damaged tissue in a person’s body, and scientists are finding new supplement combinations that are effective at treating retinal disease. It might not be a cure-all, but proper supplementation can be used along with other therapies to help slow the progression of vision loss in certain patients.
Vitamin A combined with omega-3 has been shown to be one of these combinations; researchers say that it’s a very effective combination that can be used to slow retinitis pigmentosa. The great thing about supplementation is that it’s inexpensive, and people from all walks of life can easily buy these supplements from a health food store.
Innovative studies are helping people fight their vision loss. It’s amazing how fast researchers are progressing on therapies that would have only been theories just a few years ago. These new therapies give people hope, and they can potentially cure many people from a lifetime of blindness. It’s critical to keep up with these studies; we can learn tons from them as they progress past the clinical trial stage.