Healing in the dark
Monday, March 11 2013 | 00 h 00 min | News
What if amblyopia could be cured by simply turning out the lights for a few days? That’s what researchers at Dalhousie University in Halifax, Nova Scotia, suggest.
In a recent study, the researchers studied kittens with amblyopia. After the kittens had spent 10 days in complete darkness, the kittens quickly recovered visual function. The researchers suggest that the recovery of vision comes from the loss of neurofilaments that hold the visual system in place. When these stabilizing elements disappear, the visual system becomes free to correct itself.
“There may be ways to increase brain plasticity and recover from disorders such as amblyopia without drug intervention,” says researcher Kevin Duffy. “The advantage of a simple nonpharmacological sensory manipulation, such as a period of darkness, is that it may initiate changes in a constellation of molecules in a beneficial temporal order and in appropriate brain regions.”
The study findings were published in the scientific journal Current Biology.