Usher's Syndrome


Usher syndrome

(sometimes referred to as "Usher's syndrome") is a relatively rare genetic disorder that is a leading cause of deafblindness and that is associated with a mutation in any one of 10 genes. Other names for Usher syndrome include Hallgren syndrome, Usher-Hallgren syndrome, rp-dysacusis syndrome and dystrophia retinae dysacusis syndrome. Usher syndrome is incurable at present; however, using gene therapy to replace the missing gene, researchers have succeeded in reversing one form of the disease in knockout mice. This syndrome is characterized by deafness and a gradual vision loss. The hearing loss is associated with a defective inner ear, whereas the vision loss is associated with retinitis pigmentosa (RP), a degeneration of the retinal cells. Usually, the rod cells of the retina are affected first, leading to early night blindness and the gradual loss of peripheral vision. In other cases, there is early degeneration of the cone cells in the macula, leading to a loss of central acuity. In some cases, the foveal vision is spared, leading to "doughnut vision"; central and peripheral vision are intact, but there is an annulus around the central region in which vision is impaired. Usher syndrome has three clinical subtypes, denoted as I, II and III in decreasing order of severity. People with Usher I are born profoundly deaf, and begin to lose their vision in the first decade of life. They also exhibit balance difficulties and learn to walk slowly as children, due to problems in their vestibular system. People with Usher II are also born deaf, but do not seem to have noticeable problems with balance; they also begin to lose their vision later (in the second decade of life) and may preserve some vision even into middle age. People with Usher syndrome III are not born deaf, but experience a gradual loss of their hearing and vision; they may or may not have balance difficulties. Usher syndrome is a variable condition; the degree of severity is not tightly linked to whether it is Usher 1, 2 or 3. For example, someone with Type 3 may be unaffected in childhood but go on to develop a profound hearing loss and a very significant loss of sight by early to mid-adulthood. Similarly, someone with Type 1, who is therefore profoundly deaf from birth, may keep good central vision until the sixth decade of life, or even beyond. People with Type 3, who have useful hearing with a hearing aid, can experience a wide range of severity of the RP. Some may maintain good reading vision into their sixties, while others cannot see to read while still in their forties. Usher syndrome I and II are associated with a mutation in any one of six or three different genes, respectively, whereas only one mutation has been linked with Usher III. Since Usher syndrome is inherited in an autosomal recessive pattern, both males and females are equally likely to inherit Usher syndrome. Consanguinity of the parents is a risk factor. Children of parents who both are carriers of the same mutation have a one fourth chance of inheriting the condition and children of such parents who are unaffected have a two thirds chance of being carriers. Children of parents, where only one parent is a carrier, have no chance of having the disease but have a one half chance of being a carrier. Since Usher syndrome is incurable at present, it is helpful to diagnose children well before they develop the characteristic night blindness. Some preliminary studies have suggested that as many as 10% of congenitally deaf children may have Usher syndrome. However, a mis-diagnosis can have bad consequences. The simplest approach to diagnosing Usher syndrome is to test for the characteristic chromosomal mutations. An alternative approach is electroretinography (ERG), although this is often disfavored for children, since its discomfort can also make the results unreliable. Parental consanguinity is a significant factor in diagnosis. Usher syndrome I may be indicated if the child is profoundly deaf from birth and especially slow in walking.


Although Ushers syndrome is incurable, MicroSystem Acupuncture helps improve vision of patients suffering from the disease.