Groundbreaking Steam Cell Patch Restores Sight in AMD Patients

March 29, 2018 2:01 pm

Two patients are able to read again after a groundbreaking stem cell patch was transplanted into their eyes.

A man in his 80s and a lady in her 60s had both been diagnosed with ‘Wet Age-Related Macular Degeneration’ or Wet AMD as it is also known. Macular degeneration is the leading cause of vision loss for the over 50’s and is thought to affect over 600,000 people in the UK.

There are two types of AMD – ‘wet’ and ‘dry’. The wet form accounts for around 10% of cases and develops when the cells of the macula stop working correctly and the body begins to grow new blood vessels to fix the problem. Unfortunately, these blood vessels grow in the wrong place and leak blood and fluid into the retina causing blurred vision, blind spots, and a loss of central vision. Currently, the only treatments available are injections into the eye, or laser surgery, however, this treatment does not work for everyone and only partially restores vision.

Scientists at Moorfields Eye Hospital and the London and the University College London (UCL) have discovered that sight can be restored using a patch of stem cells to replenish the damaged area.

After a two hour operation, the patients were monitored for a year to determine whether the surgery had been a success. Both went from not being able to read at all, to being able to read up to 80 words a minute using conventional reading glasses.

Douglas Waters, from London, was one of the lucky patients to undergo the treatment after developing severe Wet AMD in July 2015.

“It’s brilliant what the team have done and I feel so lucky to have been given my sight back”.

This is the first time an engineered piece of tissue has been successfully used to treat people with sudden sight loss. The treatment needs to go through larger trials and be passed by regulators, however, it is believed it could be available in eye clinics in as little as five years.


Find out more about Age-Related Macular Degeneration

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