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Reported February 18, 2013

Curing Blindness with Darkness

 

(Ivanhoe Newswire) – We rely on our sense of sight every day to take in and understand the world around us, but some people must grow up without the important sense, such as those with a visual impairment called amblyopia. However, new research may have discovered a way to give vision back to people with amblyopia: complete darkness.
 
Through examining kittens with amblyopia before and after secluding the kittens to total darkness for ten days, researchers found… 
 
"Immersion in total darkness seems to reset the visual brain to enable remarkable recovery,” researcher Kevin Duffy from Dalhousie University in Canada was quoted as saying. 
 
Amblyopia, an imbalance of vision between the two eyes that can lead to permanent vision loss, was induced in the kittens by withholding visual input to one eye. After the kittens developed the visual impairment, researchers kept them in complete darkness and studied their vision. 
 
Not only did the kittens’ vision begin to correct itself, but the restoration occurred very quickly.
 
This suggests that restoration of vision depends on the loss of neurofilaments that hold the visual system in place. Complete darkness allows this system to correct itself because those other elements are gone. 
 
Researchers hope that darkness therapy can also be used to help human children with amblyopia in place of drugs, but certain precautions would need to be taken in order for the treatment to be effective. The darkness would need to be absolute with no stray light seeping in, the original cause of the visual impairment would need to be addressed, and confirmation that darkness therapy would not harm the person’s healthy eye would also be necessary.
 
Despite the extra precautions, researchers still believe darkness therapy can do more to correct the visual impairment than any other medication. 
 
Source: Current Biology, February 2013
 
 
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