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A photo-switch for your vision?

Scientists are hopefully drawing closer to a new treatment for macular degeneration. A light-sensitive molecule that can stimulate a neural response in cells of the retina and brain has been designed by a team of vision scientists and chemists at the University of Illinois at Chicago. This breakthrough will hopefully be a first step in treating eye diseases such as age-related macular degeneration. Macular degeneration occurs when the light-sensitive rods and cones in the retina die. This new molecule acts by bypassing the dead rods and cones and then making the inner cells in the retina responsive to light. Once these light-sensitive molecules are injected into the eye, they attach themselves to the inner retinal cells and then acts as a "switch" by creating the signal that then goes to the brain. Details of the study are published in the online journal Nature Communications. This revolutionary works not only opens doors for possible retinal treatments but also diseases that affect the central nervous system.*

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