Successful stem cell therapy raises hopes for cure to a common cause of blindness

There is hope that treatment for the commonest cause of blindness could be available within five years. Scientists are basing this on the belief on the successful use of a revolutionary stem cell therapy.

Two patients, who were given this therapy have regained enough vision to be able to read.

The two patients have advanced age-related macular degeneration (AMD), which destroys the central vision. Both were losing their sight. They were unable to see a book, let alone read the letter printed on it.

However, implanting a patch of stem cells over the damage at the back of the eye has restored the central vision to such an extent that they can read and see faces.

Going ahead, scientists hope that the procedure could be as common as cataract surgery. The breakthrough comes from the London Project to Cure Blindness.

The aim of the project is to treat 10 people who had the wet form of AMD. This is caused by sudden leakage from blood vessels in the eye that can destroy the macula, which is a key part of the retina.

The retinal pigment epithelial (RPE) cells in the macula are important for the functioning of the light sensitive photoreceptor cells.

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