April 9, 2018 / Modified apr 9, 2018 9:54 a.m.

Episode 125: Our Lengthening Life Span is Outpacing the Biology of our Eyes’ Lenses

Can we reverse vision loss with artificial lenses?

AZSCI 125 Artificial Lenses Nick Delamere is studying how our every-lengthening life span is outpacing the biology of our lenses. (PHOTO: AZPM Staff)

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Nick Delamere is an expert in the cellular structure of the eye and the remarkable specializations that allow us to see. His special interest is the lenses in our eyes. Our lenses contain cells that were formed before we were born, and we are learning that our ever-lengthening life span is outpacing the biology of our lenses. As the cells age, our lenses begin to lose their ability to change into the rounded shape required for near vision. As a result, most of us need reading glasses soon after reaching 40. Later in life, cataracts often develop, as lens cells become unable to cope with life’s stresses and lose their transparency. Fortunately, the loss of vision due to cataracts can be corrected by replacing our natural lenses with artificial ones.

Today’s artificial lenses are not nearly as “smart” as our biological lenses, but recent advances are leading to fancy artificial lenses that one day may be able to change their shape as we focus near and far, just like our natural lenses.

In this episode:

Nicholas Delamere, Professor and Head of the Department of Physiology
Leslie P. Tolbert, Regents’ Professor in Neuroscience

Arizona Science
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