The Beaver County Association for the Blind Urges Support of Vision Research
Congress has designated 2010-2020 as the “Decade of Vision” to acknowledge the very real public health need and challenge of vision loss. (H. Res. 366 and S. Res. 209) Over 78 million Baby Boomers will be turning 65 over the next decade and will be at risk for age-related eye diseases, such as age-related macular degeneration (AMD), diabetic retinopathy, glaucoma and cataracts.
How Does Research Save Lives
In recent years research has uncovered major biochemical breakthroughs that may lead to future treatments for some of the most common causes of vision impairment.
- Researchers have been able to identify gene variations associated with age-related macular degeneration;
- Omega-3 fatty acids have been suggested to prevent or decrease severity of retinopathy of prematurity by protecting against abnormal blood vessel growth;
- Studies have demonstrated that nutritional supplements such as zinc and antioxidant vitamins can reduce vision loss in people at high risk of developing advance AMD and;
- Research has demonstrated that pressure-reducing eye drops can delay or prevent the onset of glaucoma.
Research has also allowed for the first implantable device to treat advanced retinitis pigmentosa to be available at several clinical centers across the U.S. later this year. The system took more than 15 years to develop and test. It uses a video camera attached to a pair of eyeglasses to capture images. The images are sent to a video processing unit that wirelessly transmits data to an implanted retinal prosthesis. The prosthesis, containing 60 electrodes, sends signals to the brain. Research supports the work of hundreds of talented vision scientists engaged in a diverse range of disease-oriented research.
The Bottom Line
More than 38 million Americans age 40 and older are blind, visually impaired or have an age-related eye disease, and the number is only expected to grow as the population ages. Increased investment in eye and vision research is needed now to help reduce that number.
For more information on vision research visit; www.pablind.org or call the Pennsylvania Association for the Blind at 717-766-2020.
Contact: Janice Beaver – Beaver Co. Assn. f/t Blind Phone: 724-843-1111 Email: Janice@bcblind.org.