- The retinal pigment epithelium (RPE)-dependent visual cycle provides 11-cis-retinal to opsins in the photoreceptor outer segments to generate functional visual pigments that initiate phototransduction in response to light stimuli. Both RPE65 isomerase of the visual cycle and the rhodopsin visual pigment have recently been identified as critical players in mediating light-induced retinal degeneration. These findings suggest that the expression and function of RPE65 and rhodopsin need to be coordinately controlled to sustain normal vision and to protect the retina from photodamage.
- The cornea is densely innervated to sustain the integrity of the ocular surface. Corneal nerve damage produced by aging, diabetes, refractive surgeries, and viral or bacterial infections impairs tear production, the blinking reflex, and epithelial wound healing, resulting in loss of transparency and vision. A combination of the known neuroprotective molecule, pigment epithelium–derived factor (PEDF) plus docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), has been shown to stimulate corneal nerve regeneration, but the mechanisms involved are unclear.