British eye doctors are becoming pioneers in the war on macular degeneration, and their cutting-edge stem cell techniques have cured blindness in two elderly patients.
It’s an incredible victory in which cells from a human embryo were grown into a patch that doctors carefully inserted into the back of the eye under rods and cones. These new embryo cells replaced the diseased cells.
One of the patients is Douglas Waters, 86, and he can now read the newspaper with his right eye. Before that, he couldn’t make out much with the eye, he tells the BBC.
Waters said he feels so lucky to have sight restored to his eye and credits the surgeons as being brilliant.
Macular degeneration will not typically cause total blindness, but the disease can make eyesight very poor with blind spots and blurriness.
British eye doctors performed the two surgeries at Moorfields Eye Hospital in London. The entire procedure and results can be found online here at the journal Nature Biotechnology.
Both patients underwent surgery on one eye and were watched for improvements for one year. Surgeons believe the operations were safe and effective and results were excellent. Neither patient could read with glasses on to begin with, but following the insertion of the embryo cell patch, both could wear normal reading glasses and see 60 to 80 words per minute. Vision was not fully restored, but it’s an amazing success and a revolutionary technique for those who suffer from elderly macular degeneration.
Eye experts believe the advanced stem cell therapy surgeries are significant and display true progress in regenerative medicine. It’s hopeful that in a few years this type of option could be available at an affordable price for patients who have lost portions of their sight.