23.12.2014

Special cells help blind mice to "see"

Special cells help blind mice to "see"

A new study has provided hope to people with severe visual impairment or blindness that they may one day be able to see clearly again.

According to a team led by biologist Samer Hattar of the Johns Hopkins University"s Krieger School of Arts and Sciences, mice that do not have any rods and cones function can still see light, patterns and images due to special photosensitive cells (ipRGCs) in the rodents" retinas.

The specialists believe that, in addition to providing hope for people with serious vision problems, it may hint that mammals may have previously used their ipRGCs for sight/image formation, but during the course of evolution, that function was somehow taken over by rods and cones.

Mr Hattar explained: "These studies are extremely exciting to me, because they show that even a simple light-detecting system like ipRGCs has incredible diversity and may support low-acuity vision allowing us to peer into evolution."

by Martin Burns


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