Zinc Treatment Could Restore Lost Connections in Injured Optic Nerve

Posted on January 6, 2017 by Disability Help Group

Ocular injury and glaucoma are just two of the ways the optic nerve can sustain damage and potentially degrade or block vision. For two decades, various studies have looked at methods of regenerating the injured optic nerve, but with no luck. Until recently, the most prosperous studies achieved only about one percent regeneration of damaged optic nerve fibers, and those fibers died shortly after the experiment.

However, research from Boston Children’s Hospital shows a promising new technique that makes use of existing mechanisms in an optic nerve injury. When the optic nerve sustains damage, zinc releases into the ocular area.

The doctors in the study, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, found that chelating (i.e., combining a metal ion with a chemical compound) the zinc allowed injured optic nerve cells to live longer and produce increased levels of axon regeneration in mouse eye models.

The next step for these findings is to reproduce the study in humans, potentially creating the framework for a new way of treating eye injuries and degenerative eye diseases. Other researchers are looking at the findings as potentially beneficial to other types of nerve injuries such as spinal cord damage.

The researchers need more information to determine exactly why optic nerve cells die immediately after injury, as they do not yet understand the mechanism for that particular phenomenon. But with further research, the team hopes to develop a method of restoring partial or even full sight to patients with damaged optic nerves.

Social Security Disability Benefits are Different for Blind Persons

The Social Security Administration typically pays disability benefits in the same amounts, with some exceptions. The disability benefit rates for blind or low vision persons are higher than those for most other disorders. However, to claim these benefits you must file your disability claim and have proof of your limited or completely impaired vision.

For more information on how a disability advocate can help, call the Disability Help Group at 800-800-2009 and speak with our team about how you might qualify for disability benefits.