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  • By Anni Delfaro
    Comprehensive Ophthalmology, Cornea/External Disease, Neuro-Ophthalmology/Orbit, Retina/Vitreous

    A weekly roundup of ophthalmic news from around the web.

    An off-color fruit or toe is hardly alarming, but a green face? Well, that’s just not right – or so says the brain’s visual processing system, scientists explained this week in Nature Communications. The brain has special wiring for gauging facial color, the NEI-led team concluded after studying human responses to the hues of faces (shown above) versus other objects or body parts. This wiring likely involves L and M cones, the photoreceptors underlying trichromatic color vision. The study hints that facial processing and color processing engage similar brain mechanisms – contradicting past notions that the tasks use different circuits. National Eye Institute

    It’s ‘goodbye NEI’ for director and retina specialist Paul Sieving, MD, PhD, who plans to retire this fall after a nearly 20-year term. But it’s not “retirement” retirement. He'll be launching and directing a new Center for Ocular Regenerative Therapy at the UC Davis Eye Center, and serving as an endowed chair in retinal research. Not exactly the carefree days most people envision. But for a world-renowned ophthalmologist described as a “renaissance man” by NIH Director Francis Collins, nothing could be more apt. National Institutes of Health

    You can’t keep a damaged retina down, so long as you have the proper tools to regenerate it. A study in the Journal of Neuroscience suggests a rod-rescuing gene therapy can restore retinal function to adult mice with photoreceptor degeneration. Rods that received the therapy not only regained normal light responses, but also recovered connections to other retinal neurons. The findings highlight the adult retina’s remarkable plasticity and hint at the possibility of repairing or replacing defective rods in patients blinded by rod degeneration. Society for Neuroscience

    Plastic straws can kill birds and wildlife. But metal straws? They’re dangerous too, the New York Times reports. A newly released coroner’s report reveals that a 60-year-old British woman died after falling and impaling her eye on a 10-inch metal straw in a glass Kilner-style cup. “It seems to me these metal straws should not be used with any form of lid that holds them in place,” assistant coroner Brendan Allen told The Bournemouth Daily Echo. “It seems the main problem here is if the lid hadn’t been in place, the straw would have moved away.” New York Times

    An eye protein can stave off and potentially treat diabetic eye disease, according to an animal study in Science Translational Medicine. At high enough levels, retinol binding protein 3 (RBP3) prevents the development of diabetic retinopathy. If pure RBP3 is injected into the vitreous early enough in disease development, the protein can reverse retinopathy in rodent models of diabetes. Joslin Diabetes Center