Research to Prevent Blindness

Functional Biomarker for Age-related Macular Degeneration Found

University of Alabama Birrmingham (UAB) investigator Cynthia Owsley, PhD, measuring dark adaptation using a prototype research machine. RPB provided infrastructure support, from 2008 through the present, in the form of research resources including biostatistical support, retinal imaging and analysis expertise, study design, and database design and management. Photo: UAB.

If you have turned the corner past middle age, heading toward older age, perhaps this has happened to you.  You are at the movies.  You leave the well lit lobby and enter the theater during a dark preview or scene from the film and, for a minute or two, your surroundings are plunged in darkness.  Gradually, your eyes adjust and you can find your way to a seat.

Your eyes' ability to adjust to darkness after being exposed to bright light is called dark adaptation.  Based on years of investigation, RPB-supported researchers believe that adults whose eyes are slow to adjust have a greater risk of developing age-related macular degeneration.  They also believe that by measuring a patient's dark adaptation response time they have developed a tool that can help track the onset or progression of the disease as well as measure the effectiveness of drugs that are in develpoment to treat the disease early on.

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