March 13, 2020

Millions of Americans are progressively losing their sight as cells in their eyes deteriorate, but a new therapy developed by researchers at the University of California, Berkeley, could help prolong useful vision and delay total blindness.

The treatment — involving either a drug or gene therapy — works by reducing the noise generated by nerve cells in the eye, which can interfere with vision much the way tinnitus interferes with hearing. UC Berkeley neurobiologists have already shown that this approach improves vision in mice with a genetic condition, retinitis pigmentosa, that slowly leaves them blind.

Reducing this noise should bring images more sharply into view for people with retinitis pigmentosa and other types of retinal degeneration, including the most common form, age- related macular degeneration.