In A New Study, Researchers Discovered An “Unexpected Link Between The Gut And The Eye,” Showing That Gut Bacteria May Play A Role In Causing Blindness That’s Associated With Certain Hereditary Eye Conditions

JoshuAA/ - - illustrative purposes only, not the actual person

New research conducted by scientists in the United Kingdom has found that gut bacteria might play a role in causing blindness associated with certain hereditary eye conditions.

Interestingly, the study also indicates that treatments using antimicrobials could potentially treat these vision impairments.

Conducted by an international team of researchers, the study revealed that gut bacteria were found in the eyes’ damaged regions in cases of vision loss stemming from a specific genetic mutation. This mutation is known to lead to eye diseases that can cause blindness.

So, scientists from University College London, working alongside Chinese scientists, suggest that the genetic mutation in question might weaken the body’s immune response. Then, this reduction in defense mechanisms could enable detrimental bacteria from the gut to travel to the eyes, ultimately leading to blindness.

Our gut hosts trillions of bacteria, many of which are crucial for proper digestion. Yet, among these microbes, some can pose a threat to our health.

The team initially aimed to study the impact of the Crumbs homolog 1 (CRB1) gene, which is active in the retina— or the thin layer of cells at the back of the eyeball. This gene plays a key role in forming the blood-retina barrier, which controls the entry and exit of substances in the eye.

Moreover, the CRB1 gene is linked to hereditary eye disorders. It is identified as the underlying cause for about 10% of Leber congenital amaurosis (LCA) cases and 7% of retinitis pigmentosa (RP) cases globally.

In mouse experiments, the researchers found that the CRB1 gene plays a crucial role in maintaining the integrity of the lower gastrointestinal tract. This discovery marks the first instance such a function has been observed.

Within the lower gastrointestinal tract, the CRB1 gene helps combat pathogens and detrimental bacteria by controlling the exchange between gut contents and the body’s internal environment.

JoshuAA/ – – illustrative purposes only, not the actual person

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