Second sight

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Science  13 Mar 2015:
Vol. 347, Issue 6227, pp. 1194-1197
DOI: 10.1126/science.347.6227.1194

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When an eye is lost, darkness reigns. And those who treat eye trauma and disease are, in a sense, groping in the dark themselves. They have little to offer the young girl who tripped while trick-or-treating one Halloween night, cracking her skull and severing the optic nerve, or the 60-year-old who sees only light and shadows, because glaucoma has destroyed cells in that same conduit. Vijay Gorantla, a plastic and reconstructive surgeon at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, along with collaborators there and at nine other centers, want to turn eye transplants from science fiction into reality. They have their work cut out for them. The most daunting challenge is coaxing nerves to regenerate and connect the donor eye to the recipient's, and there are a host of other hurdles, too. But those holding the purse strings are ready to gamble, and researchers hope early models in pigs and rats will serve as a guide.