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Blind man has sight partially restored after 40 years

May 25, 2021. Summarized by summa-bot.

Compression ratio: 31.8%. 1 min read.

A blind man has had his vision partially restored using optogenetic therapy and engineered goggles -- the first successful case of such therapy in humans.

Scientists used a form of gene therapy to reprogram cells in the eye's retina, injecting it with a viral vector and making it light sensitive.

Months after the injection, researchers equipped the patient with engineered goggles which detected changes in light intensity, and would project corresponding light pulses onto the eye's retina to activate the treated cells.

Although the patient couldn't recognize faces or read following the treatment, he was able to perceive, locate, count and touch objects using his treated eye alone while wearing the goggles, researchers said in a study published Monday in the journal Nature Medicine.

"Retinitis pigmentosa is one of the most common causes of blindness in young people and results from the loss of the light-sensing photoreceptor cells in the retina at the back of the eye," Robert MacLaren, a professor of ophthalmology at the University of Oxford, told the Science Media Centre in London.

"In this trial the researchers used gene therapy to reprogram other cells in the retina to make them light sensitive and thereby restore some degree of vision.

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