This health video will give an in-depth insight into the two new breakthroughs for patients at risk of going blind.
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Male Speaker: Most of us are born with healthy eyes, and as life goes on, we experience gradual changes in our vision but for some, specific medical conditions cause blindness. Research is on going to save sight for those at risk. Most of us take for granted the fact that when we open our eyes in the morning, we see. Karen Ponish: Not be able to see as well, it's certainly would be devastating. Male Speaker: Karen Ponish, lives with the reality that her vision may disappear. Karen has Type-I Diabetes, and has been diagnosed with Diabetic Retinopathy. Louis Vignati: One of the major causes of the complications of diabetic eye disease is that high glucose in the body. One of the effects of this high glucose is to stimulate the activity of an enzyme called PKC Beta, and PKC Beta then affects the small blood vessels in the back of the eye and causes damage. Male Speaker: 23,000,000 people in America have diabetes. 20,000 of them lose their vision every year. Karen Ponish: They said, the worse thing I could do was have a baby and it was right after we got married. Male Speaker: Pregnancy can speed the progression of Diabetic Retinopathy; Karen decided to have children despite the risk to her vision. Karen Ponish: I did have some eye changes during pregnancy. I did have some hemorrhages and one big one, but I managed to have two children. Male Speaker: Right now, Karen's vision is still good but the threat of vision loss remains, laser surgery can help but is reserved for late stages and can have side-effects. Louis Vignatti: We don't want to get to that point, we want to preserve vision, not allow people to lose vision, and not perhaps need other therapies. Male Speaker: So researchers are working on a drug called Arxxant that fights the damaging effects of high blood glucose on the retina. Louis Vignati: We decreased the occurrence of vision loss by about 40%. Male Speaker: More clinical trials are needed before the FDA will consider approval of Arxxant, so patients like Karen watch and wait. Karen Ponish: I think it would be wonderful, I think that I would take it, because it would slow any progression or chance of Retinopathy. Male Speaker: Dan Day (ph) faces a different threat than Karen. Dan Day: This is about four times as normal. At this size, I can actually read this pretty well. Male Speaker: Dan has Retinitis Pigmentosa or RP. Dan Day: If I just kind of look straight on and do this, my index finger has now disappeared. I can see it here fine, and I am just using peripheral vision, once it's here, it's gone, and it does not appear again, and until clear up here. Male Speaker: RP is genetic; in fact 10 members of Dan's family have the disease. Dan Day: The prognosis when I was diagnosed in the 70s to everybody was, you have a disease we don't know much about, we just know it destroys the retina. Many people, most people lose most or all of their eyesight, and there is nothing we can do about it. Male Speaker: Before his vision loss, Dan played college basketball and served in the army. Dan Day: The most frustrating part has been having to give up the recreational things that I used to do. I even didn't go watch much basketball or go to basketball games. It's tough because I reminded me too much of when I used to be out on the court doing it. Male Speaker: There is no cure yet for RP, but researchers hope this microchip will unlock some of its mysteries. Radha Ayyagari: So, far at least more than 35 genes have been identified for different forms of Retinitis Pigmentosa. Male Speaker: A drop of blood is placed on the chip and a scan breaks down the DNA converting it into a chart for doctors to analyze. Radha Ayyagari: It's important to know which gene mutation they have inherited so that they can determine the risk of their children inheriting the disease. So this patient has A on one chromosome and G on another chromosome. Male Speaker: For people like Dan and Karen, even small advances in research bri