Insights from color-blind octopus help fight human sight loss


Cuttlefish. Credit: Prof Shelby Temple

University of Bristol analysis into octopus imaginative and prescient has led to a fast and straightforward check that helps optometrists establish people who find themselves at better danger of macular degeneration, the main explanation for incurable sight loss.

The foundation for this breakthrough was printed within the newest problem of the Journal of Experimental Biology and describes new know-how developed by lead researcher, Professor Shelby Temple, to measure how nicely octopus—that are color-blind—might detect polarized mild, a facet of sunshine that people cannot readily see. Using this novel know-how, the analysis workforce confirmed that octopus have probably the most delicate polarization imaginative and prescient system of any animal examined to this point. Subsequent analysis used the identical know-how in people and led to the event of a novel medical system that assesses the chance issue for sight loss later in life.

Prof Shelby Temple, who holds honorary positions on the School of Biological Sciences, University of Bristol and the School of Optometry, Aston University, defined the influence of the workforce’s findings. He mentioned: “We knew that octopus, like many marine species, might see patterns in polarized mild very like we see shade, however we had no concept that they might achieve this when the sunshine was solely 2% polarized—that was an thrilling shock, however much more stunning was once we then examined people and located that they had been in a position to see polarization patterns when the sunshine was solely 24% polarized.

“Humans can understand polarized as a result of macular pigments in our eyes differentially take up violet-blue mild relying on its angle of polarization, an impact generally known as Haidinger’s brushes. It’s like an excellent sense most of us do not even know we have now, revealing a faint yellow bow-tie form on the retina. The extra of those pigments an individual has, the higher protected they’re towards sight-loss.

Insights from color-blind octopus help fight human sight loss
Octopus eye. Credit: Prof Shelby Temple

“By inventing a method to measure polarization vision in octopuses, we were able to use the core technology to develop a novel ophthalmic device that can quickly and easily screen people for low macular pigments, a strong risk factor for increased susceptibility to macular degeneration.”

Macular pigments are the physique’s pure safety towards damaging violet-blue mild. This new testing strategy allows optometrists to supply preventative recommendation to sufferers. Empowering sufferers to make easy way of life selections, like sporting sun shades or consuming extra darkish inexperienced and brightly coloured vegatables and fruits that may help them defend their sight by way of life.

Prof Temple mentioned, “I am so happy this work has been published, as it was the foundation upon which we developed our exciting new technology for measuring macular pigments.”

Macular pigments are the carotenoids lutein, zeaxanthin and meso-zeaxanthin that we are able to solely purchase from our food plan. They present long run safety to the retina and this helps forestall age-related macular degeneration by performing as antioxidants and by strongly absorbing probably the most damaging excessive power seen (violet-blue) wavelengths (380-500 nm) of sunshine that attain our retina. A problem to the attention care business is that it’s not doable to find out somebody’s macular pigment ranges with out measurement, and till now most methods have been too time consuming, tough, or costly to turn out to be a part of common eye exams.

The new know-how developed by Prof Temple by way of his start-up firm Azul Optics Ltd, allows fast screening of macular pigment ranges and can be utilized on sufferers from 5 -95 years of age. Prof Temple added: “We are all living longer and expecting to do more in our older age, so I hope this serendipitous invention will help empower people to do more to look after our eyes, so they don’t suffer from this devastating disease.”

Bow ties and cuttlefish: Researchers achieve new perception into a visible tremendous sense

More info:
Shelby E. Temple et al. Thresholds of polarization imaginative and prescient in octopuses, Journal of Experimental Biology (2021). DOI: 10.1242/jeb.240812

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University of Bristol

Insights from color-blind octopus help fight human sight loss (2021, May 4)
retrieved 4 May 2021

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