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Scientists tackle cause of common cause of sight loss in Ireland

A team of Irish scientists have made a significant breakthrough in their research examining the causes of a disease that is the most common cause of blindness in this country. Age related macular degeneration(AMD) causes problems to a person’s central vision making it blurry. Central vision in the eyes is crucial for people to undertake everyday tasks like driving, reading and watching television. The disease is a common problem in Ireland as it affects one in ten Irish people over the age of 50.

The scientists who are researching at Trinity College in Dublin have recently discovered that part of humans immune system known as IL-18 acts as a protector of sight in our eyes. It manages to do this by suppressing the production of blood vessels located behind the eye that can be damaging. The scientists have found that they can now administer tests to patients for this.

Professor Sarah Doyle who is one of the authors of the study has said “We were initially concerned that IL-18 might cause damage to the sensitive cells of the retina, because it is typically linked to inflammation. But surprisingly we found that low doses had no adverse effects on the retina and yet still suppressed abnormal blood vessel growth.”

There are two types of AMD , wet and dry. While most cases are dry, 90% of people who develop wet AMD become blind as a result. With wet AMD, blood vessels underneath the retina start to grow abnormally. This leads to almost immediate central blindness, which has a huge impact on the day-to-day lives of sufferers. The scientists findings will certainly be welcomed by those with the condition.


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