Good news says Dorset charity, but the real work continues every day.
A Dorset charity that helps people living with sight loss has welcomed news that a new treatment could heal loss of vision caused by Parkinson’s disease.
The non-invasive procedure involves a soft infra-red light that can potentially protect and repair damage to the retina.
But Jonathan Holyhead, Chief Executive Officer of Dorset Blind Association says people living with sight loss will continue to need immediate, practical and everyday support.
“While the news is very encouraging and we welcome all research towards helping people with sight loss, however that is caused, at the same time we need to be realistic and recognise that it may be years before this treatment is perfected,” he says.
“In the meantime we need to keep providing help and support for people living with sight loss now.”
However, the new procedure provides a great source of hope for the future, he adds.
Near Infra-Red (NIR) has long been known to promote the healing of wounds in soft tissues such as skin and recent studies suggest it can also protect the retina from toxins which attack its nerve cells.
“We have been studying a mouse model of Parkinson’s disease, in which such a toxin is used to create a Parkinson-like condition,” says Professor Jonathan Stone from The Vision Centre and The University of Sydney. “The toxin targets brain cells which use a particular signalling molecule called dopamine and the infra-red light – in the right dose and with the right timing – blocks the toxic effect.
“This protection or rescue of neurones in the brain – and as we know now, in the retina – is better than the best established treatments for Parkinson’s disease,” Professor Stone adds. “The challenge now is to translate these findings, made in mouse models, to human patients suffering from Parkinson’s disease.”
Dorset Blind Association helps up to 1,000 blind or partially sighted people each month, but receives no state funding.
“The people we work continue to live with sight loss and the consequences of it every day. Our projects are there to help them face the enormous challenges that brings every day,” says Jonathan Holyhead.
: To make a donation to support the work of Dorset Blind Association, call 01202 712869 or visit www.dorsetblind.org.uk.