Researchers have developed a simple eye test that could help solve the biggest global cause of irreversible blindness– glaucoma, by detecting the onset of the disease at a very early stage. Loss of sight in patients with glaucoma is caused by the death of cells in the retina at the back of the eye. This cell death is called apoptosis.
The new technique called DARC, stands for detection of apoptosing retinal cells.
It uses a specially developed fluorescent marker which attaches to cell proteins when injected into patients. Sick cells appear as white fluorescent spots during eye examination.
Glaucoma affects an estimated 60 million people in the world, with one in 10 suffering total sight loss in both the eyes.
Initial clinical trials were carried out on a small number of glaucoma patients and compared with tests on healthy people. The initial clinical trials established the safety of the test for patients, according to a study published in the journal BRAIN.
The researchers believe the test has potential for early diagnosis of other degenerative neurological conditions, including Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s and multiple sclerosis.
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