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Stem Cells to Treat Blindness

By: Ian Murnaghan BSc (hons), MSc - Updated: 18 May 2018 | comments*Discuss
Stem Cells Blindness Eyesight Sight

For people who are blind, the thought of a treatment to restore their sight may seem like an impossible dream. But it may eventually become a reality after scientists last year were able to restore the eyesight of a blind person. The treatment works by replacing those cells in the eye know as retinal cells that have been damaged or worn out from diseases such as macular degeneration. For the elderly in particular, macular degeneration is a common concern as it can lead to enormous loss of vision in one or both eyes.

What is Macular Degeneration?

Macular degeneration is a top cause of vision loss in older adults. This is the most common illness that results in blindness in the elderly or for those people who lose their eyesight due to diabetes. It wrecks havoc on a person's central vision. This kind of vision is important for helping us to see objects clearly as well as helping us to perform basic, everyday tasks such as reading a book or driving a car.

When macular degeneration strikes, it affects the area of the eye that is important for allowing us to see fine details. The disease may progress very slowly so that a person barely notices any changes at all. Or, it might progress rapidly, causing significant vision loss.

Stem Cell Therapies

Those who might benefit the most from this stem cell treatment are people who suffer from macular degeneration. But researchers think it could work for other kinds of vision loss as well.

How it Works

To perform the stem cell transplant, researchers initially tested things out in blind mice. They injected stem cells into the rear of the eye. The stem cells were able to replace the damaged photoreceptors, which are small, important cells found in the retina. These photoreceptors are vital to your ability to see things and they are very sensitive to light.

Interestingly enough, previous studies using stem cells had failed to restore sight. One reason for the problem relates to the choice of stem cells. In the most recent study, researchers used stem cells that were more mature than the ones previous researchers had used. The choice proved successful as the stem cells developed into photoreceptors and were able to join with the nerves that lead to the brain.

Researchers hope to see these kinds of transplants happening on a greater scale in approximately ten years. With many patients suffering from diseases in the eye that cause photoreceptors to die, this research offers a way to provide photoreceptor transplantation, helping to restore eyesight for many people around the world. The use of a patient's own cells also avoids the potential for immunological rejection, a threat that comes with other types of treatment.

Cautiously Optimistic

Experts do still tend to warn that we should not assume this study means we automatically have a cure for blindness. It is just one case study and there are still a number of challenges and risks that come with the treatment. But it does offer hope for people who are blind from macular degeneration that they may one day have their eyesight again.

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My son does not have vision in right eye since birth. Doctor's say his optic nerve is damaged by virus in the womb only. My question is can stem cell transplant surgery help him to regain his vision..
Viju - 18-May-18 @ 3:36 PM
Hi, My son affected by ROP stage 5. Now he is 4 years. We came to know the ROP after 6 months of his birth. Is it possibleto cure him through stemcell. Kindly help me
Raja Anthony - 10-May-18 @ 11:25 AM
Can stem cell help with chemical poisioning with retina burnt out?
Trude - 8-May-18 @ 11:12 AM
Is there any treatment for vision loss in patient of 20years of age, due to retinal detachemnt which resulted 3 years ago?
Iqu - 15-Apr-18 @ 5:05 PM
Good day. About 6 years ago my boyfriend was in a car accident. He suffered enormous head injuries and due to the injuries are 100% blind. Doctors in South Africa said the nerves to the brain are dead. Please advice if any and any treatment to revive dead cells in the brain.
Edith - 10-Apr-18 @ 2:01 PM
Hi, My brother has Marfan Syndrome and had vision in one eye only since childhood. Recently he started having problems in his betetr eye and had to undergo AC IOL removaland DSEK, but had complications after that and has undergone a retinal detachment surgery in which macula is also involved. We are not sure how much vision will be restored. I can attach the recent reports too. Please let me know whether there is any chance of improving his vision with Stem cell treatment. He just had the retinal detachment surgery a week back but the doctor's mentioned that he has a very guarded visual prognosis.
monu - 1-Apr-18 @ 4:02 AM
My mom has wet MD. How can she qualify for the stem cell transplant?
Jim - 21-Mar-18 @ 12:48 AM
My 4 y/o great nephew suffered a self inflicted gunshot wound to the face/head 6 months ago. As a result he lost vision in his right eye. Can his vision be restored and how? Thank you
Nikki - 17-Mar-18 @ 1:25 AM
I'm 55 years old and have retinal detachment in Left Eye. Basically leaving me blind in that eye. does anyone know of any stem cell successes to help restore vision
Winthy - 14-Feb-18 @ 7:20 AM
Hi everyone, received some really concerning news. My 14 year old sister has retinal tears which could result in detachment. I am so worried about vision loss. If she was to lose her vision would an eye transplant resort blindness. Any help is appreciated
dundun - 11-Jan-18 @ 2:30 AM
Hi Been 10 years I have had retinal detachment surgery but I totally lost sight in left eye and have very sight in right eye. I want to know if there’s treatment to cure blindness due to chronic ret detachment blindness.. Thanks
Sied - 7-Jan-18 @ 8:25 PM
My 75 year old father is suffering from wet AMD related blindness since many years. We are waiting for any stem cell treatement to give him a chance to restore some vision.
akbar - 3-Jan-18 @ 12:04 PM
Calvin loss sight and hearing to accident a sharp metal stock him in the eye infected both eyeshe has no vision let me know about stem cell tranplant
No - 7-Dec-17 @ 3:39 AM
My partner has gone near blind after staring at the sun for a long period. He is struggling with his vision and day to day duties. Can your stem cell treatment help in any way? Thanks, Looking forward to hearing from you
Ali - 8-Nov-17 @ 6:23 PM
My mother has 92 years and has macular degeneration Two days ago had headache and after she lost her vision.It was horrible,because she shows desorietation and desesperation,very sad for me and for all the family. She is a old lady but she likes of the life. If there treatment ,research,anything, Please advice.thank you..
Ana - 2-Nov-17 @ 12:57 AM
I have never seen with my left eye because of retina detachment. I had my first surgery at the age of 6 and had retina reatach at age 14on right eyeI am 31 already been goin to the doctors ever since. I hope to see with left eye before my time is up. I would like to know more about this treatment.
lonzo - 29-Oct-17 @ 7:38 PM
We have a baby diagnosed with ROP stage 5 from birth. He is now 3 months old. Please let me know if there is anything we can do.
Susan - 29-Oct-17 @ 11:14 AM
Hello Sir in my childhood age veins of my eye got damaged while surgery and I had lost my vision . Now size ofmyeye is regularly shirking is there any treatment available
Monu - 16-Oct-17 @ 5:45 PM
Helow: my father is 75 year old and he is blind since 1996 . He has lost his right eye vision in 80 s . i dont know the exact reason behind his blindness but i really want to know which tests i should conduct and where i should send them to know that whether is treatment is possible now or not. i will be really thankful if someone suggest me the complete information in this regard. please.
zahra - 13-Oct-17 @ 9:56 AM
My husband had an accident and it destroyed his optic nerve and he went total blind in his left eye has a different shaped than a normal personwould a stem cell help him restore his eyesight..his right eye has Glaucomahe has Loss over 75% of the eye do to Glaucoma he is 56 Yearsold and loves life can you tell me if a stem cell would help either eye or both we don't have a good eye at all please help! Thanks
Rosie - 12-Oct-17 @ 5:30 PM
My baby 1+ suffered rop in stage 5 . if any treatment to my baby possible to see !Please help us.
Nisha - 26-Sep-17 @ 6:57 PM
Hi I am Nasim Ahmed who is 20 years of age my left eye is damaged due to damage of the optic nerve I cannot see out of that eye at all and is very difficult for me on a day to day basis and I feel very sad and depressed. The only thing I want in life to to curee my left eye. Please email me 2 thank You.
Naz - 16-Aug-17 @ 3:29 AM
Hi I am Nasim Ahmed who is 20 years of age my left eye is damaged due to damage of the optic nerve I cannot see out of that eye at all and is very difficult for me on a day to day basis and I feel very sad and depressed. The only thing I want in life to to curee my left eye. Please email me or contact me on 07443475202 thank You.
Naz - 16-Aug-17 @ 3:26 AM
I sufferd a eye injury back in Feb. 12, 2017: were I was hit in the left eye lid w/ - military sim round. The globe remained intact; however, I had a macular hole that spontaneously closed. I had 20/20 Vision prior to the injury and now I have 20/400 vision. I have a scar tissue that has formed that prevents me from seeing past it.As 3 opinions have stated, I will not regain the vision. The Dr. used this metaphor; your eye is a 35mm camera, the camera is not damage, but the film is damage and there is no way to replace the film. Would stem cell work to regain the vision? I still work - I hate that I can't see but I function with limited disability. Allergies really aggravate the eye. Otherwise, I now wear glass that act as safety glasses to protect my right eye.I often see a flashing white light about 10-15 time a day. I'm a 35 year old male.
BK - 13-Aug-17 @ 6:23 AM
My uncle lost his vision to Diabeties he is awaiting answer from Berlin for stem cell sugery ,
Barbiedoll73 - 13-Aug-17 @ 2:18 AM
My friend is a gun shot victim and the blast damaged his optic nerve could the surgery help with getting his vision back?
Rere - 9-Aug-17 @ 7:04 AM
Can stem cell treatment help my 3 year old daughter she has rop stage 5 retinal detachment she is blind both her eyes please help me thank u
gene - 24-Jul-17 @ 8:02 AM
Left eye optic nerve Head injury due to accident (TON) No vision in left eye Can stemcell recover
Abhi - 11-Jul-17 @ 2:59 PM
Hi My friend has been diagnosed with Stargardt disease. He can see now 20% from normal. Can stem cell treatment help his condition? How can he volunteer for the trial?
Al - 4-Jul-17 @ 2:19 PM
Good day. Please my Dad lost his vision through glaucoma disease and now, it seems all hope is lost. Can there be any hope of his sight being restored through Stem Cell Therapies. I will so much appreciate God if hope comes through this.
RICHFAITH - 30-Jun-17 @ 7:54 PM
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