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Research News

May 2020

FBC funded researcher finds link between Vitamin D and retinal disease.

FBC Clinician Scientist Emerging Leader, Dr. Jacob Rullo from Queen’s University, has published a paper showing levels of vitamin D are higher in the eyes of patients with retinal disease, such as age-related macular degeneration and diabetic macular edema. Previous work looking at blood levels of vitamin D was inconclusive. This study shows that vitamin D is present in the eye and that it may play a role in disease progression.

Researchers turn skin cells into light-sensing eye cells

Researchers, from the University of North Texas Health Science Center have published a technique for reprogramming skin cells into light-sensing rod photoreceptors. This new technique allows researchers to skip a step in the process, and may provide a faster way to produce photoreceptors for cell replacement and stem cell therapy. When these reprogramed cells were transplanted into the eyes of blind mice, researchers detected some light under specific experimental conditions. However, this is only the first step and future experiments are required to see if the reprogrammed cells can actually restore long-term sight.

NEI researchers link age-related DNA modifications to eye disease risk

Findings point to targeting epigenome as a potential therapeutic strategy
Have you heard of the epigenome? The epigenome is all the chemical modifications or “marks” on our DNA which control which genes turn on and off. The epigenome can change in certain diseases like cancer, and now researchers at the National Eye Institute (USA) have published a study showing that it can change in the photoreceptor cells of mice as they age. Photoreceptors need energy to function and researchers found that as mice age, there were epigenetic changes that affected how their cells could use energy – demonstrating a clear link between aging, how cells use energy, and age-related eye diseases like age related macular degeneration (AMD). It might also point to a new therapeutic option: finding ways to change the epigenome to reduce vision loss.


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