Treating Vision with Stem Cells
Eyesight is something that, when taken away, changes every aspect of our lives. Even slightly poor eyesight can influence a daily basis affecting our ability to drive, read and recognise. Researchers are now studying how transplants of retinal cells might prevent vision loss or improve vision in patients.
As eyesight becomes worse, our perception of the world changes and even the smallest of tasks would become a challenge. For those unfortunately enough to have full vision impairment, the idea of restoring vision sounds like a miracle. It sounds like something you can only dream of happening.
In 2014, scientists did just this. Through the use of stem cells – they managed to restore the vision in one patient, who recovered vision after being deemed legally blind. While not over-promising, it is one of the first steps against battling a disease which is life-changing. Research has been ongoing following this and subsequent trials are ongoing.
In the process, scientists inject stem cells under a patient’s retina, with the theory that they will then replace the damaged cells (photo-receptors) and regain normal function prior to the damage. This is key to regaining sight and restoring light detection.
Vision potential using stem cells
The study not only showed that cells derived from stem cells can be safe for patients, it also confirmed the potential that they hold for treatment. The possible use of stem cells in therapy seems to hold unlimited potential. With the knowledge that stem cells can become any type of cell in the body, they are widely regarded as the future of medicine and hold hope for a lot of previously thought ‘incurable’ diseases.
Researchers are also using stem cells to study different aspects of how the eye is affected and how different eye diseases can be treated. It is thought that stem cells, with their regenerative properties, hold the key to replacing damaged areas of the eye and/or replacing damaged cells.