Stem Cells Used to Regenerate Sections of Retinas
In a breakthrough for stem cell research, scientists from the Schepens Eye Research Institute used stem cells derived from skin to regenerate areas of damaged retinas.
The study holds great promise for future treatments of eye diseases such as age-related macular degeneration, retinitis pigmentosa and diabetic retinopathy. In these diseases, retinal cells begin to die and stop the eye from capturing light and transmitting information to the brain. "Stem cell regeneration of this precious tissue is our best hope for treating and someday curing these disorders," said Dr. Michael J. Young, the principal investigator of the study.
Dr. Young collaborated with Dr. Budd A. Tucker, the study's first author, to harvest skin cells from the tails of red fluorescent mice. Within four to six weeks, researchers observed that the transplanted "red" cells had taken up residence in the retina and had begun to "integrate and assemble" into healthy retinal tissue.
"We are very excited about these results," said Dr. Tucker. "While other researchers have been successful in converting skin cells into induced pluripotent stem cells -- we believe that this is the first time that this degree of retinal reconstruction and restoration of visual function has been detected."
The Schepens Eye Research Institute, the largest independent eye research institute in the nation and an affiliate of Harvard Medical School, published the results of this study in the May issue of the science publication, PLoS ONE.For more information on healthy vision, visit Lighthouse.org.
New Currency App Designed to Help Visually Impaired
The U.S. Bureau of Engraving and Printing (BEP) has unveiled a new downloadable application, EyeNote, to help people who are blind and visually impaired handle and recognize U.S. currency.
EyeNote is a free mobile device app that uses image recognition technology to determine the denomination of a bill. The app, designed for Apple's iPhone, iPod Touch and iPad2, requires 51 percent of a bill (front or back) to be scanned. In a matter of seconds, EyeNote provides an audible or vibrating response, letting the user know how much their bill is worth. Research indicates that more than 100,000 blind and visually impaired individuals possibly own an Apple iPhone.
"Some of the best solutions for people who are visually impaired or blind are coming in the form of apps," said Dorrie Rush, Marketing Director for Accessible Technology at Lighthouse International. "We applaud the BEP's progressive approach to making currency accessible." EyeNote is currently available through the Apple iTunes App Store.
Each month, we share the stories of Lighthouse International clients, volunteers and employees who have overcome the challenges of vision loss in Voices of Hope. Meet David Judson, a Lighthouse volunteer. For 10 years, he's been helping Maria Hansen, a Lighthouse client who is blind, live a productive life. Read our latest Voices of Hope story and be inspired by David's selflessness.
Every month, Lighthouse International's staff of leading experts will answer select vision related questions. This month our expert is Dr. Linda Pang, O.D. at Lighthouse International. Visit Ask the Expert to submit your questions for next month!
Q: I have a 9-year-old daughter who has a congenital macular scar that causes her to have central blindness in both eyes. Is there any advanced technology that can help get her central vision back?
A: There are a variety of magnifying devices, electronic and video magnification technology, and vision rehabilitation services that your daughter can utilize to make reading standard print materials much easier. Read on for the answer to this question and the rest of June's Ask the Expert selections.
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About the Lighthouse:
Lighthouse International is a leading non-profit organization that helps people of all ages who are at risk for, or are experiencing, vision loss. Through services, education, research and advocacy, the Lighthouse helps people with low vision and blindness enjoy safe and independent lives. Support for Lighthouse International comes from individual donors, foundations and corporations. Our work is made possible by the generosity of forward-thinking contributors who extend the visionary philanthropy of the Lighthouse founders Winifred and Edith Holt. Your support is always needed, appreciated and valued. Donate today!