Clinical trial aims to help restore eyesight

Clinical trial gives hope for those with blindness

DALLAS -- Doctors in Dallas are offering new hope for people living with a rare genetic eye disorder called X-linked retinoschisis, or XLRS. Right now there is no treatment or cure, but a new clinical trial might be able to restore their eyesight over time.

Trevor Sorrels, 18, is in college in Corpus Christi. The avid scuba diver is an aspiring marine biologist.

“He would like to study squids,” said mom Karen. “There's not a lot known about the different species of squids."

But it’s getting more difficult for Trevor to see, and glasses don’t help.

“Three of my brothers are affected by it,” said Karen of the genetic disorder XLRS.

Like his uncles, Trevor was born with it, too. XLRS is a rare hereditary disease affecting boys. It usually becomes apparent by age four or five.

“They don't produce a protein that's crucial for keeping the retina together,” said Dr. David Birch, research director at the Retina Foundation of the Southwest. “So what they get is a splitting."

When layers of your retina split, less information is passed from the eye to the brain, and there is a risk for detachment of the retina.

“The further damage can lead to blindness,” said Dr. Birch. “There are patients… that go blind in their 40s or 50s."

Dr. Birch is excited about a first-of-its-kind gene therapy treatment. He said that by injecting a healthy copy of the mutated gene into Trevor’s eye, just one time, the gaps in the retina could eventually close over time. His vision would improve on its own.

“It's interesting and helpful and exciting,” said Karen, who added that she just hopes for her son to live a normal life. A life that would allow Trevor to see clearly -- and for mom to breathe a sigh of relief when he’s underwater.

“I said as long as you can see the sharks, I'm okay,” joked Karen.

Twenty-seven patients will be enrolled in this clinical trial in six places in the country. Dallas is one of them.

For more information go here.

© 2017 WFAA-TV


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