Myopia Cell Discovered in Retina

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Cells in the eye could be over stimulated by indoor light spectrum, causing damage, say researchers.

At Envision Optical, we are passionate about a preventative approach to eye care for our Gold Coast and Tweed patients. With advances in understanding about myopia or shortsightedness and its development, we are far more informed about the preventative measures we can take to help slow down or stop the progression of myopia prescriptions. This brand new research on myopia development caught our attention last week.

Scientists of Northwestern University in US have discovered a cell in the retina that may cause myopia when it dysfunctions. The dysfunction may be linked to the amount of time a child spends indoors and away from natural light.

“This discovery could lead to a new therapeutic target to control myopia,” said Greg Schwartz, lead investigator and assistant professor of ophthalmology at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine.

More than a billion people in the world have myopia, whose incidence is rising and is linked to how much time people spend indoors as children. The newly discovered retinal cell — which is highly sensitive to light — controls how the eye grows and develops. If the cell instructs the eye to grow too long, images fail to be focused on the retina, causing nearsighted vision and a lifetime of corrective glasses or contact lenses.

“The eye needs to stop growing at precisely the right time during childhood,” Schwartz said.

It has long been long known the retina contains a signal to focus the image in the eye, and this signal is important for properly regulating eye growth during childhood.

“But for years no one knew what cell carried the signal,” Schwartz said. “We potentially found the key missing link, which is the cell that actually does that task and the neural circuit that enables this important visual function.”

Schwartz named the cell, “ON Delayed,” in reference to its slow responses to lights becoming brighter. The cell was unique among many other cell types tested in its exquisite sensitivity to whether an image was in focus.

He described the neural circuit as the diagram that reveals how this cell is wired to other cells in the retina to acquire this unique sensitivity.

The indoor light spectrum has high red/green contrast, which activates these clusters of photoreceptors in the human eye, creating the equivalent of an artificial contrast image on the retina. It’s likely the human version of the ON Delayed retinal ganglion cell would be overstimulated by such patterns, causing aberrant over-growth of the eye, leading to myopia, Schwartz said.

The study is published online at Current Biology.

At Envision Optical, our optometrists are all believers in preventative eyecare, especially when it comes to myopia. We believe it is time to change the traditional way of just prescribing stronger glasses for myopia every year as your child’s eyes get worse, as compelling scientific evidence shows this is an outdated approach. A comprehensive vision exam and discussion about all of the options to prevent the problem getting worse is our core philosophy of care.

Please book in for an exam at any of our four Gold Coast locations at Nerang, Burleigh Heads, Burleigh Waters and Tweed Heads South for a comprehensive eye exam.

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Contact Us:

Burleigh Heads, 21a James St, Burleigh Heads – 07 5535 2344

Treetops Plaza, Shop 19, 7 Classic Way, Burleigh Waters – 07 5593 7844

MyCentre Nerang, Shop 34b, 57 Station St, Nerang – 07 5502 1277

Tweed Health for Everyone Superclinic, 4/33-35 Corporation Circuit, Tweed Heads South – 07 5524 9659

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