For the first time, researchers have used gene therapy to increase light sensitivity and improve vision in patients who were virtually blind, a finding that offers new hope to hundreds of thousands of patients with inherited forms of vision impairment. "The fact that they had patients who could now read lines on an eye chart . . . and one who could run an obstacle course -- this is a really great advance," said geneticist Stephen Rose, chief research officer of the Foundation Fighting Blindness, who was not involved in the research. "This has changed the landscape of hope for patients."