A cause of retinal degeneration has been discovered by scientists in Japan.
It is related to cilia - the hair-like structures that jut out from the smooth surfaces of most mammal cells.
Researchers at Hamamatsu University School of Medicine found that if these communication hubs do not function properly, due to genetic defects, they can result in degeneration in the eye.
Mitsutoshi Setou, who oversaw the team"s work, said: "Also, age-dependent visual loss or hearing loss is known to be related to damage of the eye or ear sensory cilia."
It is hoped that this new understanding will lead to the development of new therapies for a group of genetic diseases called retinitis pigmentosa, which cause degeneration of the retina.
According to the NHS, the older a person gets, the more likely they are to develop macular degeneration - a form of retinal degeneration.
The condition is also more common in women than it is in men.
by Emily Tait