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A WMU scientist will expand her research on blast exposure treatment

Landmines are collected near a guardrail off of the M5 highway in Syria. In the foreground, pressure plates from disarmed landmines are collected in a wooden box.
In this photo released by the Syrian official news agency SANA, landmines are collected by Syrian engineering troops from the M5 highway, recaptured by President Bashar Assad's forces, in Aleppo, Syria, Saturday, Feb. 15, 2020.

Neurophysiologist Cindy Linn received a grant from the Department of Defense to study treatment for eye damage from landmine blasts.

Western Michigan University biological sciences professor Cindy Linn will study a potential treatment for soldiers with eye damage. The treatment uses cellular regeneration to help repair eye tissue.

Linn began this research nine years ago by exposing mice to pressure simulating a landmine blast.

“Once you’re an adult—mammals, for instance humans—you don’t regenerate neurons, you don’t regenerate muscle cells anymore,” Linn said.

But she found that a certain kind of medicated eyedrops helped regenerate the damaged eye tissue. Now Linn will study whether the same substance can help improve visual perception when applied to the brain, a necessary step to improving visual perception.

Linn added that 66 percent of landmine blasts lead to eye damage.

“It is one of the most common damages associated with triggering a landmine," she said.

She said the eyedrops could be used beyond treating blast exposure.

“This will cause new retinal neurons if you apply it by itself, so that would really, potentially, help the aged population.”

Negative side effects have been observed in the heart when the treatment enters the bloodstream. But these side effects are not present when it’s applied to the eye.