The loss of one of the sensory feelings given to us by nature and evolution is a rather frightening prospect for most people, however, unfortunately, for many, such a loss becomes a reality. Millions of people in the United States have the prospect of irreversible changes in their vision.
According to WHO experts, approximately 285 million people with visual impairments are nicknamed the world, of whom 39 million are blind and 246 million have low levels of vision. A recent survey by Research! America and Alliance for Eye and Vision Research (AEVR) found that many Americans believe that vision loss affects daily life that is comparable to the effects of cancer, Alheimer’s disease, and HIV.
Unfortunately, loss of vision is a very common problem, it can be associated with the process of natural aging or the development of any specific medical condition. About 80% of visual impairments can be prevented or cured. The main diseases of the eye, included in the remaining 20%, include degenerative disorders of the retina, which are currently recognized as incurable.
Treatable and incurable eye diseases
Most often, visual disturbances are caused by uncorrected refractive pathologies (43%) or cataracts (33%). Refractive pathologies include myopia, hyperopia, and astigmatism, in which the cornea or lens of the eye does not have the necessary ideally curved shape.
With the development of visual impairment associated with precisely such problems, a ready-made solution often exists. Refractive pathologies can be corrected with glasses, contact lenses or refractive surgery. Cataracts, or clouding of the lens of the eye, are usually treated with surgery, which is one of the most common in the United States.
Retinal degeneration diseases are incurable, they destroy the retina, a layer of tissue located on the back surface of the eyeball and containing photosensitive cells. Currently, there are several degenerative diseases of the retina, including retinitis pigmentosa, macular degeneration and Asher syndrome. In particular, macular degeneration associated with aging is the leading cause of vision loss in the world.
As Dr. Raymond Ietsti, an ophthalmologist at Mayo Clinic, explains, the main difficulty is the lack of effective treatment for degenerative diseases of the fiber of the eye. Difficulties are associated mainly with the presence of hundreds of biochemical pathologies leading to the development of such disorders. Moreover, with various types of degenerative disorders of the retina, various cells are affected, and the treatment depends on the degree of damage and the stage of the disease.
When degenerative conditions were first identified, they were classified as retinitis pigmentosa. As knowledge in this area improves, scientists have determined that different conditions affect different parts of the retina and have their own specific mechanisms. For patients whose vision is still good enough, therapeutic approaches such as neuroprotection or gene therapy can be used. By protecting cells within the retina from death associated with a latent biochemical disorder, vision can be maintained in a fairly large patient population. A quick and tough neuroprotective strategy would help prevent cell death and loss of vision, regardless of hidden biochemical pathology.
Gene therapy focuses on correcting biochemical pathologies that lead to the death of retinal cells. This approach is highly specific, it will require the development of several hundred treatment methods that could cover the full range of degenerative diseases of the retina.