Last updated on Feb 26th, 2021 at 02:31 pm

It’s estimated that there may be as many as 9000 children under the age of 15 affected by genetic blindness. But there is hope, as international research has made incredible progress in finding a solution.

“Clinical trials to treat specific genetic sub types of these conditions are improving the sight of many children abroad. We have been offered a unique opportunity to include South African youngsters in these trials – providing they have the specific genetic code that predisposes them to blindness. What we need is to find the children, give them a genetic test, and of course find the funds to make this happen,” says Claudette Medefindt, Deputy President of Retina International and Director for Science of Retina South Africa.

The University of Cape Town has partnered with Retina South Africa to do the genetic testing in order to identify likely candidates for these miraculous trials.

What is genetic blindness?
• It includes retinal conditions such as Retinitis Pigmentosa, Stargardt Dystrophy, Leber Congenital Amaurosis and Usher Syndrome
• It begins to affect children from birth or in their early developmental years
• These conditions affect the retina, which lines the back of the eye and converts photons of light into neural signals which are sent to the brain where we see.
• It occurs most commonly in families with no previous history of blindness
• There may be as many as nine million carriers of a defective gene for these conditions, according to Retina SA.

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