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Subspecialties Basic & Translational Research, Comprehensive, Neuro-ophthalmology

So Long, Lazy Eye

There has long been evidence that subanesthetic ketamine, commonly used to treat depression and pain, may control how the nervous system makes structural changes in response to internal and external demands – a process known as neural plasticity. But how the drug works has remained elusive… until now.

Researchers at the University of California, Irvine School of Medicine have demonstrated how a single dose of the drug can reactivate adult visual cortical plasticity and promote functional recovery of visual acuity defects – specifically amblyopia. “Our research team showed that ketamine downregulates NRG1 expression in PV inhibitory cells, resulting in sustained cortical disinhibition to enhance cortical plasticity in adult visual cortex,” said Steven F. Grieco, a postdoctoral scholar and lead author of the study (1). “Through this neural plasticity-based mechanism, ketamine mediated functional recovery from adult amblyopia.” The lab intends to continue further testing to determine the full implications of this discovery.

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  1. UCI School of Medicine (2020). Available at:
About the Author
Phoebe Harkin

Associate Editor of The Ophthalmologist

I’ve always loved telling stories. So much so, I decided to make a job of it. I finished a Masters in Magazine Journalism and spent three years working as a creative copywriter before itchy feet sent me (back)packing. It took seven months and 13 countries, but I’m now happily settled on The Ophthalmologist, where I’m busy getting stuck into all things eyeballs.

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