The marvels of science may be nowhere more apparent than with the possibilities it holds for human vision. This is particularly true in the case of gene therapy as a treatment for poor eyesight. Gene therapy can be explained as simply inserting ‘corrective genetic material into cells’ as a method of alleviating disease symptoms. Of course, there is actually nothing simple about it!
It is not a new methodology by any means – the first clinical trials date back to 1990 when scientists first attempted to identify DNA sequences and used gene therapy to slow the progression of a number of infections and diseases. These clinical trials continue today. There remain significant challenges to their success relating to all diseases, however it is becoming a more routine intervention in a variety of medical treatments.
As it relates to vision and eye problems, gene therapy continues to find ingress into treatment. For example, gene therapy has been shown to be successful in treating a rare degenerative eye disease that could prevent future blindness due to inherited causes. In a clinical trial, gene therapy revealed vision improvement in two of six patients. While this may seem inconsequential, the fact is that gene therapy is a complicated and sophisticated medical approach that is still experimental but presents great hope for the future!
Just this year an article was published on the surprising and exciting outcome of the use of gene therapy to treat age-macular degeneration – a most common cause of blindness in the elderly population. Specifically, over 2 million Americans suffer from AMD and with the population continuing to age, it is expected to become even more common. Often patients who are suffering from AMD must receive monthly injections to help keep their symptoms under control. The clinical trial utilizing gene therapy found that some patients were able to go several months before needing a treatment. Moreover, it appears the treatment will be adaptable to meet the specific needs of each patient!
There is no question that the miracle of modern medicine is upon us if the examples presented in this blog are any indication! The future of eyesight looks clearer than ever before. If you have questions about your vision, contact the professionals at Island Eyecare. We revel in ‘looking out for you’!