This is fascinating with a very tiny biopsy taken from a patient’s good eye and involves less risk. So far this is working with patients who have lost sight in one eye and it is being restored in the other eye. They are hoping to advance the procedure to where it can take care of 2 injured eyes.
Some procedures have also required a corneal transplant too, and so far the procedure has been used for those who had their eyes damaged by burns or items piercing the eye. BD
Even 10 years ago it would have been considered a miracle but, as Adam Dudding discovered, revolutionary stem cell techniques now allow surgeons to restore sight to the blind.
STEM CELLS grown in a laboratory have been used to restore sight to the blind, in a series of cutting-edge operations performed by an Auckland eye surgeon – a New Zealand first.
Over the past nine months Professor Charles McGhee and his colleagues have performed the operation on five subjects, in each case taking healthy stem cells from a patient's uninjured eye and growing them for up to three weeks on amniotic membrane taken from a human placenta, before reimplanting the lab-grown cells back into the injured eye. In two of the five operations, the patients simultaneously received conventional corneal transplants.
McGhee says operations to transfer stem cells between eyes are used when injury has destroyed the "niches" where the corneal stem cells are stored, just on the junction between the white sclera and the transparent cornea.
A simpler operation, where cells are transferred directly, has been done in New Zealand for five or six years, but it is not suitable for all subjects, as it involves moving up to 50% of the corneal stem cells from the uninjured eye, thus putting the "good" eye at risk.