Color Blindness - Potential Cures In Development
A Cure for Color Blindness on the Horizon?
Did you know that color blindness isnít actually blindness at all? People that are color blind can see just as well as people with regular vision. However, their eyes are not able to properly see and differentiate color. Typically those that are color blind can still see many colors, but have trouble seeing certain colors. Red-green color deficiency is most common type of color blindness. Occasionally people are affected with a blue-yellow color deficiency, although this isnít as common.
How Common is Color Blindness?
Color blindness is much more common in men than in women. In fact, it is estimated that somewhere between 2% and 6% of adult men are color blind. More 3.5 million Americans are color blind as well as more than 16 million people in India and others world wide. This condition is hereditary and most people that are color blind were born that way.
How Does it Occur?
Color blindness is a condition that occurs when the cells in the retina are unable to properly respond to color. You see the retina is a part of the eye that picks up on light and colors. The retina is filled with light sensitive cells known as rods and cones. Rods work well in situations where there is little light. Cones help us to see color. When someone is color blind they generally have fewer of these color identifying cones, or can even be without certain types of cones. Different types of cones are used to identify different colors.
While color blindness is most commonly a hereditary condition it can also be caused by various conditions including Parkinsonís disease, cataracts and other conditions.
There is Currently No Cure
There is no cure for color blindness. At first glance, you might think that this condition would only be a minor inconvenience. However, it can have serious implications for those affected by it. One common effect of this disease is that it will limit the careers that can be pursued. Being able to see and recognize colors is an important part of many occupations including working in the electrical field, aviation and geology. This disease can also take away from the beauty of the natural world. Imagine not being able to enjoy a beautiful sunset. It can cause serious frustration and discouragement. It can also cause a few health implications, such as not being able to notice a sunburn before it gets serious.
But, There is Hope
While this no cure for colorblindness at this time, there is hope that a cure will be available sometime in the near future. Recently researchers from the University of Washington and the University of Florida were able to cure colorblindness in a couple of squirrel monkeys. Researchers hope that this study will someday pave the way to finding a cure for colorblindness in humans. They also believe that this technology could help other vision problems as well.
An Overview of the Study
This groundbreaking study was many years in the making. Two squirrel monkeys, Dalton and Sam, received extensive training over a 10 year period. These monkeys were taught to take a special version of a traditional vision test known as the Cambridge Colour Test. In this test the monkeys identified and traced various color patterns on a special touch screen monitor. When the monkeys correctly identified the color pattern, they would receive extra juice as an award.
Once the monkeys were trained they received an injection of a specially formulated gene compound. The researchers used human DNA to create these corrective genes. A special, harmless virus was used to get the new genes into the monkeyís cells. These new genes would allow the monkeys to produce a special protein known as long wavelength opsin, which would help the monkeys to see color.
After treatment it took quite a while to see any results. The researchers say that it took about 20 weeks before any changes were noticed. However, once change started to happen, it was very noticeable. The treated monkeys were now able to find and acknowledge reds and greens, which he had been unable to do before. After extensive testing it was determined that the monkeys could see and identify all colors.
The researchers believe that if this procedure was performed on a human that it could cure color blindness. Hopefully someday soon this gene therapy will be able to cure this vision deficiency in humans.
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