Vision loss is one of the greatest fears people have about growing older. However, stem cell eye repair could eliminate at least one form of blindness in the coming years.
A Phase 1 clinical trial at the UK’s Moorfields Eye Hospital successfully restored sight to two patients suffering from age-related macular degeneration using a revolutionary retinal stem cell treatment for blindness.
WHAT IS AMD?
AMD is one of the most common forms of age-related vision loss, affecting more than a million Canadians. The most common symptoms of AMD are blurred vision, dark shadows over the eyes and even visual hallucinations in extreme cases. The disease comes in two varieties: dry, and the less common wet form, which is what the patients at Moorfields suffered from.
The wet version occurs when abnormal blood vessels appear in the macula, a segment of the retina responsible for our central vision, and leak fluid which damages it. This occurs due to deterioration sustained by the Retinal Pigment Epithelium layer of the retina over many years that was thought to be irreversible.
REGENERATING YOUR VISION
While repairing the RPE is still out of reach, what the doctors at Moorfields were able to do was replace them entirely using new RPE lenses constructed from stem cells. They were then able to use a special surgical device to replace the layer for each patient.
While traditional treatments for wet AMD require patients to come in for monthly or bi-monthly injections for the rest of their lives, the patients who underwent the retinal stem cell treatment have not had to have any additional procedures for a year since the surgery.
According to the hospital’s press release, the two patients have gone from being unable to read even with reading glasses, to reading 60-80 words a minute with reading glasses since undergoing the treatment.
“In the months before the operation my sight was really poor and I couldn’t see anything out of my right eye. I was struggling to see things clearly, even when up-close,” 86-year-old patient Douglas Waters said in the release, “After the surgery my eyesight improved to the point where I can now read the newspaper and help my wife out with the gardening. It’s brilliant what the team have done and I feel so lucky to have been given my sight back.”
THE FUTURE OF STEM CELL TREATMENT FOR BLINDNESS?
As stunning as the results of this clinical trial were, it’s important to remember that a sample size of two is not very representative. However, the doctors at Moorsfield are confident in their results and soon hope to develop a treatment for dry AMD. Unlike the wet variant, there is currently no widely available medical or surgical treatment for dry AMD.
Whether or not that pans out, we’re clearly at the forefront of a brave new territory for stem cell eye repair and stem cell treatment for blindness!
If you’re concerned about age-related maladies like arthritis, osteoporosis, and other forms of chronic pain, stem cell therapy might be the right treatment plan for you.
Visit a RegenerVate clinic to learn how we use your body’s own natural stem cells to combat the effects of aging using PRP, ADSC, and BMAC therapies. Contact us today to schedule an appointment!