losing sight

How Does the Casey Eye Study

Identify the Source of Fear Losing Sight? Do you fear losing sight? Actually, it’s an irrational fear that does affect many people. A 2021 survey showed that out of all of the five senses, sight was by far the most important. In fact, only about one in seven people surveyed actually claimed that they fear losing sight most often. So why is this?


It’s because for many people losing their sight

is much more frightening than actual blindness. You see, a lot of the time when we experience fear losing sight there is something in our lives that triggers that emotion. For instance, if a person were to lose their hand, their fear would be related to getting cut, having an injury, or maybe even losing their life. But when that fear is due to losing their “sense of self”, it becomes irrational and completely out of proportion to the situation.



at the National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases have tested human volunteers for genetic differences that might influence the development of a person’s fear of losing sight. What they found was that two specific genes, called HLA genes, seem to affect this fear more strongly than others. Specifically, these two specific genes, located on the surface of the eye, are the genes that affect a person’s ability to form a haptic sense, which is essentially a feeling of burning, prickly feeling in the hands. This “haptic” sense can be very important to some people, especially those who live jobs that require them to handle sharp equipment or chemicals on a consistent basis.


This research was done

by the William S. Casey Eye Institute at the University of Northumbria in the UK. The study looked at the effects of the genes on the part of the visual system that is responsible for determining whether an individual has nerve damage associated with the eye. In the study, researchers measured the reactions of children and adults with traumatic retinal injury. In the case of children, their ability to recognize faces that were familiar as well as recognition memory was impaired when exposed to a traumatic event. In the case of adults, they found that their ability to recognize faces was normal, but their performance in remembering directions and location was affected by the presence of the HLA genes. This study offers hope for people who suffer from a condition known as juvenile macular degeneration, which often leads to vision loss in middle age.



the Casey Eye Institute is conducting a clinical trial using Luteinizing hormone-releasing gene therapy. This method of treatment, also known as gonadotropin-releasing hormone (GPRH), is similar to current therapy for fibromyalgia and other connective-tissue diseases. During the clinical trial, participants are placed on a regular regime of eye drops containing Luteinizing hormone-releasing hormone, which triggers the release of additional cells in the retina. This new regimen is being evaluated for use in people who have age-related vision impairments resulting from diseases such as schisomia, progressive retinopathy, or glaucoma.


Dr. Michael J. Lamb

a member of the Casey Eye Institute’s Research Laboratory of Genetics and Genomics, is the principal investigator for the ongoing clinical trials. Dr. Lamb is also a professor in the field of bioimaging at the University of Rochester Medical Center in New York City. Dr. Lamb is eager to share his team’s findings with the public, but he emphasizes that the results of any study require rigorous follow-up. Anyone who signs up for the clinical trials must be prepared to submit blood samples for testing and will be required to participate in health screening as part of the study.

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