Optic Nerve Can Be Partially Regrown in Mice

Optic Nerve Can Be Partially Regrown in Mice | Florida Eye Specialist

Glaucoma is second only to cataracts as the leading cause of blindness worldwide, according to the International Agency for the Prevention of Blindness (IAPB), and is the leading cause of irreversible blindness. About 4.5 million people are currently blind because of glaucoma.

The disease damages your optic nerve, which carries the information your eye collects to your brain for processing. This damage is irreversible, meaning current treatment options cannot help the optic nerve replace damaged tissue.

Glaucoma is a progressive disease, which means it becomes worse in time. While eye doctors can slow down or even halt the progression of glaucoma, they cannot yet restore any damage already inflicted to the eye. However, a team of scientists from Stanford University has recently announced that they have made the severed optic nerve of lab mice partially grow back.

Restoring the sight of blind mice

In a recent study, scientists used lab mice in which one optic had been crushed, which is similar to the damage caused by cataracts. Researchers used a combination of gene therapy and visual stimulation to trigger growth and partial restoration of the optic nerve.

Andrew Huberman, a senior researcher on the project, said, “‘We didn’t regenerate every cell from the eye to the brain…It was a small fraction of the total number of cells…They went from being blind mice to being mice that could see a number of things.’”

After learning that applying the correct protein can cause the nerves to grow directly to the brain in mice, researchers are starting to work with ophthalmologists and other specialists to work on simulations for humans.

Eye doctors could someday use the information they learned from this research to help re-grow optic nerves in people with glaucoma. But for now, researchers believe this procedure is too risky for humans.

About Glaucoma

Glaucoma occurs when fluid builds up in the eye to cause excessive pressure on the optic nerve. Because glaucoma does not cause symptoms in its earliest stages, up to half of all people with glaucoma do not realize they have the sight-robbing disease. A visit to an eye doctor is the only reliable way to diagnose glaucoma in its early stages, when treatment is most likely to halt progression of the disease.

If you have glaucoma or another degenerative disorder and are interested in learning how modern treatments can help, make an appointment with Florida Eye Specialists. We are the leader in eye care and offer the most technically advanced eye care available today. Make an appointment online today or by calling 904-564-2020.