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Stem Cells to Treat Blindness

By: Ian Murnaghan BSc (hons), MSc - Updated: 17 Mar 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 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
I met withan accident on 30/11/13 i am 38-year-olda cuttingwheelbroke and cut my left eye.I got the treatmentfromGanpatinetraley where they first the cornea and in secondoperationthey do some lazer then also cant get any result so the doctortold me that there may be bloodclotswe will clean it withasmalloperationso at the time of third operationduringoperationdoctortold me thatI have detachedretina and now it. Is closefunnel retinal detachment and nothingcan be done. I visited many doctorsand day I met a doctorkei kei Mehtakolaba mumbai Maharashtra he told me that he can operate and so he operated and fixed well the detachedretina after 6 monthsofaccident cansee the perception with my oiled filled eye and waitingforvision but no visiondevelopedand afterfew months he told me to do eye graftingnow. My cerneais gettinglittlewhitecan I get any benifit. From. Stem cell treatment pleaseguide me and if yes then give address of stem cellclinic in. India.I willbethankful to you
Guddu - 27-Jun-17 @ 5:40 AM
Hi this is not for me..this is for my mom..she is diabetic..actually doctor said her ratina is damaged..she cant see any more..can any solution for her.. Thanka Ks
Ks - 25-Jun-17 @ 9:01 AM
My 8 year old daughter lost vision of her left eye due to old retinal detachment causing blindness. She has damaged optic nerves also. Her right eye is ok. Can she regain her vision as her left eye has become non functional.
Titoo - 20-Jun-17 @ 11:59 AM
Hi, I have retina detachment in my right eye and could not see with same eye but treatment for my left eye was successful consequently,I can only read,write and deal with just my right eye. Can the damaged retina detachment be corrected as the history of the treatment was almost a decade now please help a soul.
AB - 16-May-17 @ 4:04 PM
Hi my son is 16 years old he has macular dystropy desease which leads to vision loss. is there any stem cell treatment to prevent vision loss. Please help me. I will be waiting for your response. Thankyou
Ali - 12-May-17 @ 3:39 PM
Is the stem cell treatment can help in 11 years old baby with 90% damaged retina. And which is benificial for her autologous or analogue. Please reply.
Sultana - 6-May-17 @ 6:18 PM
My brother also dignosed with stargardt's disease now his vision 6/ 60...both eyes.i want to ...know about stem cells treatment nd how much cost...
Choty - 5-May-17 @ 12:00 PM
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