Preventing or reversing age-related blindness electrically

Research details

  • Type of funding: Fight for Sight Small Grant Award
  • Grant Holder: Professor Colin McCaig
  • Institute: University of Aberdeen
  • Region: Scotland
  • Start date: April 2016
  • End Date: March 2017
  • Priority: Treatment
  • Eye Category: AMD


In age-related macular degeneration (AMD) damage happens to the light-sensitive layer of the eye (the retina) in a small central part called the macula. The damage can be from cell death, scarring or leaking fluid.

Underneath the retina is a layer of cells called the retinal pigment epithelium. These cells produce a particular protein (known as PEDF) that nourishes nerve cells. AMD is linked to having too little of this protein.

The team has found that an electrical signal in the retinal pigment epithelium controls the protein production and so they think that it may be possible to increase the amount of PEDF protein by boosting the electrical signal. In this project the team is finding out about how the electrical signal controls the protein and whether this process can be regulated electrically or with drugs developed for the purpose. If so, this may be a new route toward preventing or reversing AMD.