Optogenetics without the genetics

Gold nanoparticles enable precise stimulation of normal, non-genetically modified neurons with light

Light can be used to activate normal, non-genetically modified neurons through the use of targeted gold nanoparticles, report scientists from the University of Chicago and the University of Illinois at Chicago. The new technique, described in the journal Neuron, represents a significant technological advance with potential advantages over current optogenetic methods, including possible use in the development of therapeutics toward diseases such as macular degeneration. Continue reading

Watch your eyes during the eclipse, warn eye experts

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Eye health experts are warning of the dangers of staring directly at the sun, ahead of a solar eclipse this Friday (March 20).

The eclipse will be visible across the UK but the Isle of Lewis, off the coast of Scotland, is predicted see around 98% of the sun blocked by the moon. The rest of the UK may see anywhere from 80–99% coverage of the sun, with London expected to see around 85% coverage. The last solar eclipse to be visible from the UK was in 1999, with the best view in Devon and Cornwall. Continue reading

Promise for regenerating damaged neurons in glaucoma

As World Glaucoma Week was celebrated earlier this month (March 8–14) it was announced that scientists may soon be able to repair nerve cells in the eye damaged by glaucoma, improving the vision of patients.

Speaking at the annual meeting of the American Glaucoma Society (AGS), in Colorado, earlier this month, Dr Jeffrey Goldberg, University of California, San Diego, revealed early results from breakthrough trials using proteins which promote the growth of nerve cells. Continue reading

Ophthalmologists encourage organ donation to help restore sight for thousands

The number of corneal transplants needed to restore vision keeps growing each year. Nationwide, ophthalmologists performed more than 48,000 of these procedures in 2013, about 10,000 more than five years prior.[1] As this need continues to increase, organ donors who provide the eye tissue that makes these sight-restoring operations possible will become even more important. Continue reading

Easy on the eyes: How eyelash length keeps your eyes healthy

Study finds that animals and humans have similar lash length

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It started with a trip to the basement of the American Museum of Natural History in New York to inspect preserved animal hides. Later, Georgia Institute of Technology researchers built a wind tunnel about 2 feet tall, complete with a makeshift eye. By putting both steps together, the team discovered that 22 species of mammals – from humans, to hedgehogs, to giraffes are the same: their eyelash length is one-third the width of their eye. Anything shorter or longer, including the fake eyelashes that are popular in Hollywood and make-up aisles, increases airflow around the eye and leads to more dust hitting the surface. Continue reading