A new kind of treatment can help people with Parkinson's disease maintain their vision, a study says.

According to researchers, non-invasive treatment with infrared light can be used to protect and heal the damage of retina in people diagnosed with Parkinson's disease.

"Near infra-red light treatment has long been known to promote the healing of wounds in soft tissues such as skin. Our recent studies are showing that it can also protect the retina of the eye from toxins which attack its nerve cells," said Professor Jonathan Stone from The Vision Centre and the University of Sydney.

Researchers conducted experiments on animal models to study the effect of infrared light on the retina of mice that were designed to develop the kind of retina damage that is seen in Parkinson's disease patients.

"We have been studying a mouse 'model' of Parkinson's disease, in which such a toxin is used to create a Parkinson-like condition. The toxin targets brain cells which use a particular signaling molecule called dopamine, and the infrared light - in the right dose and with the right timing - blocks the toxic effect," Stone said.

The new treatment employs infrared radiation at low intensity and it protects and heals retinal damage. As the levels of infrared used in this study haven't been associated with any side-effects, conducting trails on humans might be safe, says Stone.

"As shown in these studies on mice, protection or rescue of neurons in the brain - and as we know now, in the retina - is better than the best established treatments for Parkinson's disease. The challenge now is to translate these findings, made in mouse models, to human patients suffering from Parkinson's disease," Stone said in a news release.

According to estimates, about 50,000 people in the U.S. are diagnosed with Parkinson's disease each year.

"Diseases such as Parkinson's are seriously debilitating; for the individual the need is immediate. There is every reason for clinical trials to be carried out as soon as possible," said Stone.

"Parkinson's is a double-whammy disease. Our dream is turn back both the damage to the brain and the damage to the retina. Increasingly, this seems possible," he added.