Short-sighted moles help scientists see the light

Short-sighted moles help scientists see the light

A discovery by scientists at the University of Aberdeen that moles actually have better eyes than expected has shed light on some human disorders.

The researchers found that moles can see light even when their eyes are permanently shut. They also discovered that moles’ eyes play a crucial role in controlling their body clocks, allowing them to know the time of day and year – and helping them to breed as moles only mate in the Spring.

And the discoveries could have implications on human eye disorders.

Dr Martin Collinson, reader in biomedical sciences, said that the research helps to understand the evolution of the eye as it helps explain how a partially formed eye can be useful.

He added: "There is a type of stem cell in our retinas called the Muller glia that could hold the key to repairing retinas after disease or injury that lead to blindness. Although these stem cells are asleep and virtually inactive in humans, in moles they are awake and reactivated."

Dr Collinson received his PhD from the University of Edinburgh in 1996.

by Martin Burns

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