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Contraceptive pill could prevent blindness: Study

Written by: QMI Agency
Sep. 1, 2011

A component of a contraceptive mini pill could prevent blindness in patients who have a degenerative eye condition, a new study has found.

Mini pills are a progesterone-only form of birth control. They don't contain estrogen and the progestin dose is lower than in other oral contraceptives.

Researchers at the University College Cork in Ireland discovered mice given the mini pills don't lose light-detecting cells in their eyes, which die with the genetic condition known as retinitis pigmentosa. It's believed an active component in the pulls, Norgestrel, prevents the blindness.

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"It 'beefs up' the cells, makes them stronger and better able to resist the destructive effects of the damaged gene that causes the disease," researcher Tom Cotter said.

The researchers hope to start studying the effect on humans next year.

The study was published Thursday in the Journal of Neurochemistry.

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