Apoptosis or Programmed Cell Death

A controlled process for cell death, triggered by a signal or biochemical reaction, in response to an accumulation of cellular damage.

Apoptosis is common to all retinal degenerative diseases. This controlled type of cell death happens normally in development and some body functions, but when it happens abnormally in the retina, it can kill the cells required for light detection and vision. Scientists don't know exactly how this process is triggered, but it is hoped that an understanding of apoptosis will lead to sight-saving therapies that prevent or delay photoreceptor cell death (i.e., neuroprotective therapies).