Darkness will help restore vision

It might seem a little silly statement, but ten day stay of the person in complete darkness can significantly improve his eyesight

If the eye for a long time, poor vision, the brain decides not to pay more attention to him and reconfigures all of the neural circuits in the healthy eye. The reason the patient eye sees poorly, can be anything (and cataracts, and astigmatism, etc.), but even though it can be cured, the vision is still not restored: the brain has already made the decision and made the appropriate engineering.

Doctors call this phenomenon amblyopia, and, most worryingly, either with the aid of glasses or with the help of other manipulations with the eye you can not get rid of it: the point is in the neurons.
The fibers of the optic nerve (red) extending from the retina. Blue colored blood vessel, green — glia, orange — retinal ganglion neurons.
The fibers of the optic nerve (red) extending from the retina. Blue colored blood vessel, green — glia, orange — retinal ganglion neurons.

Usually in such cases, try to make good eye and saw the bad, but there is a risk of ruin and of itself. Furthermore, amblyopia must be treated immediately and quickly for the delay will cause that person will remain weak eye. But all is not hopeless: a new hope to people with amblyopia give … cat.

Cat's eye is often a research model for scientists studying human vision: the idea that we can see the cat and process information in a very similar way. If the cat's brain feels bad that the eye sees its corresponding neurons begin to decline and stay in touch with each other. But, as noted recently, if the cat will be surrounded by darkness, the neurons will be normal size again, as if they were associated with a healthy eye.

Researchers from Dalhousie University (Canada) gave the following experience: they covered one month old kittens eyes for seven days. It was a month after the birth of the visual analyzer is formed in the brain of cats particularly intense, so if the eye at the time did not see or sees bad, the animal quickly developing amblyopia. Then the kittens open eyes and then one placed in the dark immediately, but others — only three months. In a dark room and the other was kept those ten days. When the kittens again come to light, they have not seen in both eyes. But after a while they both eyes began to see the same.

And those that were put into the darkness once, then never seen nor even any other eye, and sight to them back in seven weeks. But kittens placed in a dark room after exiting, there was a difference, "healthy" eyes have seen better. A "patient" then still restoring eyesight and was almost indistinguishable from the "healthy". That is, as the researchers write in Current Biology, only 10-day stay in the dark to restore the function of visual neurons with amblyopia.

In neurons, there is a special protein called NF-L, which helps to stabilize and fix the cell structure. It accumulates in the neurons over time and gives cell rigid frame, which is quite difficult to change. Because of this framework suffers neural plasticity, as the cells difficult to break old connections and form new ones. As it turned out, stay in the dark reduces the amount of NF-L in neurons and gives them a chance to organize themselves in a new way. Rigid form disappears, and the cell can again plastically respond to visual input. Figuratively speaking, the darkness rejuvenates neurons. Now scientists want to find out if it was only in cats is a rejuvenation — or people too can experience the darkness reconfigure their neurons.

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