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Archive for the Diseases Category

A New App for Book Readers with Low Vision

Spotlight TextVision impairment is a challenge for people who love books. Accommodative technologies are often expensive and cumbersome, and many apps and systems can’t be configured to meet each person’s specific reading needs.

But a new iPad app called Spotlight Text may be the ticket for visually impaired book lovers, young and old alike. It’s used in conjunction with Bookshare, a nonprofit, online library for people with print disabilities. The subscription service has access to 300,000 titles, including New York Times bestsellers and many K-12 textbooks.
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Campaigning to End Blindness

Jacob RiderJacob Rider is a 14-year-old Claremont, New Hampshire, resident affected by an inherited retinal disease called Usher syndrome, which causes both hearing and vision loss. He’s also an energetic high-schooler with energy to spare—which makes him an ideal participant in My Campaign to End Blindness, a personalized fundraising program launched by FFB this past summer.
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Bionic Vision Down Under

Participant in BVA human trialIt’s an exciting time in the world of bionic retinas, which are enabling people with blinding retinal diseases to perceive patterns of light. This, in turn, allows them to interpret basic shapes and objects, thereby improving their mobility and independence. Second Sight’s Argus II is available in the United States and Europe, and Retina Implant AG’s Alpha IMS is also on the market in Europe. Many research groups around the world are developing devices as well.
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Low-Hanging Fruit: Repurposing Drugs to Treat Retinal Diseases

Low-hanging fruitMany years ago, while picking apples with my uncle, he advised me to “pick the low-hanging fruit.” That way, he told me, you can fill your basket faster and not be as tired at the end of the day. I think the same can be said of drug repurposing—the process of evaluating a drug prescribed for one disease to see if it can safely and effectively treat another disease.
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Changing Someone’s Life: A New Video Emphasizes the Need to Support FFB’s Mission

Allison CoronaGrowing up, Allison Corona could see shapes and silhouettes, but not the faces of loved ones clearly enough to know if they were happy or sad. She needed a cane to navigate her schools’ hallways. And in a dark room, or outside at night, she was completely blind. “It was like living a half-life,” Allison, 22, recalls in a new FFB video, “Restoring Sight, One Treatment at a Time.”
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Genetics 101: How Some Retinal Diseases are Inherited

Egg and spermLong before the advent of genetic testing, or even knowledge of DNA and RNA, astute observers noticed that many traits were passed from one generation to another. But it still can be difficult to understand why some people inherit a genetic disease and others do not. Also, it’s often not clear which family members are at risk of inheriting a condition.
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Ready for the Spotlight: Rebecca Alexander Shares Her Story of Living with Usher Syndrome

Rebecca AlexanderFive years ago, when Rebecca Alexander appeared on The Today Show with her brother Peter, she already had quite a tale to share. Nearing 30, she was single, living in New York City and working as a full-time psychotherapist and part-time spinning instructor. She also had Usher syndrome, a disorder that causes both hearing and vision loss—and which she’d mostly kept under wraps.

After the show, “a literary agent asked about writing a book,” recalls Rebecca, whose parents, Terry and David, are national trustees of the Foundation Fighting Blindness (FFB). “And I thought, ‘I don’t know what to write about, or that anyone would care.’”
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Fascinating Facts About Retinal Cells

Diagram of retinal cellsYour eyes are not just windows to your soul, but to your health as well. People rarely pay attention to their eyes, until something goes wrong. The eye is a delicate organ, and vision is a complex process involving various components.
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Inspired by Progress in Usher Syndrome Research

Dr. Mark PennesiWhen I first heard about Usher syndrome, the leading cause of combined blindness and deafness, I was 19, fresh out of high school and very privileged for the opportunity to work as a summer student at the Retina Foundation of the Southwest with David Birch, Ph.D. I was quite moved by the patients — their eagerness for any kind of treatment and the fear that they might pass their disease on to other family members. That was almost 20 years ago. Back then, we knew very little about the condition, especially its genetic diversity, and there were no foreseeable therapies.
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How Evolution is Leading to Gene Therapies for More Retinal Diseases

Dr. John FlanneryAt first blush, gene therapy for retinal diseases seems so simple: Inject a tiny drop of liquid containing good copies of a gene to replace the bad, and you’re home free. Vision is saved, and, in some cases, it’s even restored.

But the reality is: Developing gene therapies that are safe, effective and long-lasting is very challenging in our world of genetically diverse retinal degenerations. Scientists have to design a delivery system that gets the genes to the right types of cells across the entire retina, but without affecting other cells.
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