Helping Humans (and Dogs) See Better

by Anderson & Shaprio
A model of the cones in the retina, responsible for detecting light colors and reporting back to the brain

As we get older, our eyes can start to have problems. The cones in the retina, which allow us to see color and details, can stop working properly. This can make it hard to see clearly, especially in bright light.

Researchers Gustavo Aguirre and William Beltran have been studying eye diseases that run in families for a long time. They found a way to fix the cones in the eye by putting a healthy gene back into the retina.

Both people and dogs can have these types of eye diseases. The researchers worked with a team, including a brain scientist named Geoffrey Aguirre, to study how the brain responds when the cones are not working well.

They used a special brain scan called fMRI to look at the brains of dogs with different eye diseases. They found that the fMRI could detect when the part of the brain that processes vision was not getting the right signals from the eyes. This helps them understand how much vision is being lost.

Researchers Dr. Gustavo Aguirre and Dr. William Beltran

In one type of eye disease caused by a problem in the NPHP5 gene, the dogs are born unable to see well in daylight. Over time, they also lose their night vision as other parts of the eye stop working. The researchers showed that their gene therapy treatment could restore the daylight vision signals in the brain of these dogs.

Using dogs for this research is helpful because dogs can naturally get the same kinds of eye diseases that people can. If the treatments work in dogs, the researchers hope they can then try them in people to help restore vision.

The fMRI scans are better than other tests, because they can quickly show what is happening in the brain without needing to train the dogs for a long time. This makes it easier to see if a treatment is working.

Overall, this research is important for finding new ways to help both people and dogs with inherited eye diseases see better, especially in daylight.

Find the original study here:

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