Science Briefs – Edition 25

What's Inside

  • Gene therapy for blindness now covered in Canada.
  • Common home test for AMD found to be inaccurate.
  • Pan American helath organization working to eliminate river blindness.
  • And, about a dozen stories about the science, medicine and preventing blindness from the entire world.

Editorial By Chris Hofstader

This was another relatively soft week for stories about the science and medicine of blindness. We have about a dozen stories in this edition and many are pretty interesting.

I always enjoy curating the science stories as they are consistently optimistic. We read about scientists worldwide addressing real problems and making real progress.


World Blind herald does not write the stories to which we link in Science Briefs, we gather them, curate them and bring them to our readers. We are not scientists ourselves and cannot guarantee the validity of the stories in this digest. We do, however, want to be very clear that you should not attempt any of the medical interventions mentioned in Science Briefs without first consulting a professional ophthalmologist and discussing it with them. Do not take medical advice from this or any other web site or podcast without first consulting a professional.

And get a weekly digest from World Blind Herald.


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Science and Medicine

Durham man was trial patient for recently FDA approved treatment for leading cause of blindness

A Durham man was a patient in a clinical study for a treatment that was recently approved by the FDA to treat a leading cause of blindness. This story comes to us from: CBS 17.

Gene replacement therapy Luxturna® now reimbursed in Ontario for adult and pediatric patients with a rare form of inherited vision loss

Novartis Pharmaceuticals Canada Inc. is pleased to announce that Luxturna® (voretigene neparvovec) is now funded by the Ontario government for the treatment of adults and pediatric patients with vision loss due to inherited retinal dystrophy caused by confirmed mutations in both copies of the RPE65 gene and who have sufficient, viable retinal cells. This story comes to us from: Yahoo Finance.

Lone Star Family Health Center: Glaucoma the second leading cause of blindness behind cataracts

Glaucoma is a serious condition that affects millions of people in the United States and is the second leading cause of blindness in the world, following only cataracts. This story comes to us from: Houston Chronicle.

Commonly used self-test for age-related macular degeneration found to be inaccurate

But timely diagnosis and treatment of wet AMD is crucial to saving vision. This story comes to us from: Medical Xpress.

The perception of affective and discriminative touch in blind individuals

Enhanced tactile acuity in blindness is among the most widely reported results of neuroplasticity following prolonged visual deprivation. However, tactile submodalities other than discriminative touch are profoundly understudied in blind individuals. Here, we examined the influence of blindness on two tactile submodalities, affective and discriminative touch, the former being vital for social functioning and emotional processing. We tested 36 blind individuals and 36 age- and sex-matched sighted volunteers. In Experiment 1, we measured the perception of affective tactile signals by asking participants to rate the pleasantness of touch delivered on the palm (nonhairy skin, sparsely innervated with C tactile [CT] fibers) or the forearm (hairy skin, densely innervated with CT fibers) in a CT-optimal versus a CT-nonoptimal manner using a paradigm grounded in studies on tactile sensory neurophysiology. This story comes to us from: Physician's Weekly.

Use of Informational Brochures on Knowledge of Cataracts in Rural Ecuador

Cataracts are the leading global cause of preventable blindness. Despite the high prevalence of cataracts in rural Ecuadorian communities, no community-wide educational efforts on the impact of cataract-related blindness have been attempted. This study used an educational brochure to assess individual knowledge of cataract blindness before and after the distribution of the brochure. This story comes to us from: – Cureus.

Preventing Blindness

Virginia scientists uncover new method to prevent loss of eyesight – study

A new peer-reviewed study published earlier this week uncovered a new focus that prevents the knotting of blood vessels attached to conditions like neo-vascular macular degeneration, proliferative diabetic retinopathy and ischemic retinal vein occlusion. This story comes to us from: the Jerusalem Post.

Radio Havana Cuba | The Pan American Health Organization strives to eliminate river Blindness

It is a parasitic disease caused by very small worms that can cause skin and eye damage, including irreversible blindness. This story comes to us from: SmallCapNews.

Doctor honoured for contributions to blindness prevention in Asia-Pacific

Along with directly giving checkups and treatment to tens of thousands of patients, Giap has actively engaged in training activities. This story comes to us from: Vietnam Plus.