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Blindness from eye disease linked to the gut


Eye

Gut bacteria may be the cause of blindness from certain eye diseases, an international study in mice has found.


Led by University College London (UCL) and Moorfields Eye Hospital, both UK, and Sun Yat-sen University, China, the research looked at mice with sight loss caused by a specific mutation in the CRB1 gene, which is linked to certain inherited eye diseases.


In the damaged part of the eye, the team discovered the presence of harmful bacteria that are usually found in the gut.


Further investigation in the mice showed that the mutated CRB1 caused the normal barriers between the eye’s retina and gut to be breached, allowing bacteria to enter the eye, damage the retina and cause sight loss.


Scientists have now suggested that these conditions might be treated with antibiotics.


Richard Lee, at UCL and Moorfields, said: “Our findings could have huge implications for transforming treatment for CRB1-associated eye diseases."


The team now hope to continue this research in clinical studies.

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