New hope for sun-burned eyes

Photo by Curtis Gregory Perry

Photo by Curtis Gregory Perry

Australian researchers at The Vision Centre are working on a non-invasive method that involves shining near-infrared light (NIR) into damaged eyes to invoke a natural process which encourages the eye to heal itself.

“The use of NIR in healing eyes stressed by bright light has now been established, in animals,” said Dr Krisztina Valter from ANU and a Chief Investigator in the ARC Centre of Excellence for Vision Science.

“Now work has begun on the use of red light in human patients. Testing the effect of the light treatment is one aspect of this work, the other is to develop devices that are more accessible, more convenient and cheaper for patients to use.”

Dr Valter said that red light at a wavelength of 670 nanometres is best as it is absorbed by an enzyme which is key to the energy production of the cell.

“It enhances the genes and processes needed to produce energy and fight against the activation of genes potentially lethal to vision cells,” she said.

The research has brought new hope for people whose eyes have been damaged by sun, as it is demonstrating that some of the damage may be simply, safely and cheaply reversible or further damage could be prevented, using NIR treatment.

Dr Valter and her team are in the process of establishing Phase 1 of human trials to test NIR light in human patients. They anticipate the treatment will be used as a supplement or in some cases even as an alternative to surgical treatment.

The Vision Centre is funded by the Australian Research Council as the ARC Centre of Excellence in Vision Science.

More information:
Dr Krisztina Valter, The Vision Centre – 02 6125 1095 / 0411 423 119,
Professor Trevor Lamb, The Vision Centre – 02 61258929 / 0434 022 375
Mandy Thoo, The Vision Centre media contact – 0402 544 391
Martyn Pearce, ANU Media – 02 6125 5575 / 0416 249 245