Optic Nerve Regeneration

The optic nerve is a cable of nerve fibers emerging from a layer of neurons in the retina, called retinal ganglion cells, which transmit visual information from the retina to the brain through electrical impulses. Damage to the optic nerve disrupts this information flow and eventually death of retinal ganglion cells that lead to the permanent loss of vision. Finding ways to allow optic nerve regeneration and repair thus presents a key step toward restoration of vision following nerve damage. In the past, my laboratory was the first to use a genetic approach to achieve full-length optic nerve regeneration from the eye, all the way into the brain, after nerve injury in mice.

Currently, we are focusing on developing new drug therapies that can be applied to human patients with optic nerve disorders, including glaucoma or various forms of optic neuropathy, for promoting optic nerve regeneration to prevent vision loss or restore sight. The research into nerve regeneration holds promise and may one day be able to help repair spinal cord and brain injuries or disorders arising from trauma, stroke or degeneration.

Regenerated Day 4

Optic nerve regeneration: Epifluorescence photograph of an injured optic nerve showing in which regenerating nerve fibers were labeled with a green fluorescence dye. Note the green fluorescence labeled nerve fibers grew past the injury site and filled up the entire optic nerve, indicating nerve regeneration. Arrow points to the injury site.

ACKNOWLEDGEMENT: Prof Dong Feng Chen (Harvard University)

Please note that the information provided on this website is intended as a guide only, and should not replace treatment and advice from your medical or eye care practitioner. If you have any questions regarding your eye condition or potential interventions, please speak to your health care practitioner.

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