Behind the headlines - Winter 2023

8 February 2023
Winter 2023

Eye health issues that are making the news - Winter 2023.

RPE65 drives visual cycle

Researchers have identified new details about the role of vitamin A in enabling the eye to sense light. The discovery could inform the hunt for new therapies for a number of visual impairments.

When light hits photosensitive pigments called opsins in the retina, a chemical called 11-cis retinal, derived from vitamin A, is converted into the molecule all-trans retinol. This triggers chemical reactions that generate the electrical signals that form the basis of vision in the brain.

The retinal pigment epithelium (RPE) drives the reversal of this process to restore the sensitivity of opsins to light, enabling the visual cycle to begin again. A protein called RPE65 plays a key role by binding to RPE cells.

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We have partnered with the Ulster University to develop a series of learning modules to support optometrists who want to undertake research, from developing their understanding of research to acquiring the necessary skills.

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The College’s Research Excellence Awards recognise achievements in optometric research, and the way in which they enrich the whole profession.