New Grant Tests Potential Target for Age-Related Blindness

Published in UConn Today, April 23, 2018

Royce Mohan, a UConn Health associate professor of neuroscience, has received more than $400,000 from the National Institutes of Health to study the role of a specific enzyme in retinal gliosis.

Age-related Macular Degeneration (AMD) is the most common cause of blindness in people over the age of 50 in many developed western countries, including 11 million Americans. Estimates predict that 196 million people worldwide will suffer from this condition by 2020. Retinal gliosis is a phenomenon that causes scarring and occurs in many eye diseases and also after injury.

With retinal gliosis, Muller glial cells become activated and can proliferate and become invasive. Gliosis has been observed in humans with AMD, as well as mouse models of AMD, signifying that a link exists between this process and the condition, but the details of the relationship remain unclear.

As AMD progresses people may begin to see a blurry spot at the center of their vision which will continue to develop into blank spots in one’s central vision. These effects are caused by damage to the macula, a one-mm sized tissue at the center of the retina that controls visual acuity. This loss of central vision interferes with every day tasks like reading, driving, and identifying faces. Elderly people lacking this central vision are also more prone to fall and break bones.  Learn more about this study.