AMD or age-related macular degeneration is one of the most common causes of sight loss and blindness in Europe.
The condition causes the eyes to slowly deteriorate, with cloudy, or shadowy, patches forming within the line of vision. The results of which can have severe consequences on a
Doctors in the UK have recently made a breakthrough, using revolutionary stem cell treatments, which have had unprecedented regenerative effects.
Douglas Waters, an 86-year-old AMD sufferer, was almost completely blind in his right eye, but as a result of the treatment, his vision has dramatically improved. Waters even stated that he can now read a newspaper with no difficulty.
The BBC reports that Waters was given ‘pioneering stem cell therapy at Moorfields Eye Hospital in London.’
“Cells from a human embryo were grown into a patch that was delicately inserted into the back of the eye. The macula is the part of the eye that allows you to see straight ahead – whether to recognise faces, watch TV or read a book.
“In the months before the operation my sight was really poor and I couldn’t see anything out of my right eye.
“It’s brilliant what the team have done and I feel so lucky to have been given my sight back.”
The macula is made up of rods and cones that sense light and behind those are a layer of nourishing cells called the retinal pigment epithelium.
When this support layer fails, it causes macular degeneration and blindness.
Doctors have devised a way of building a new retinal pigment epithelium and surgically implanting it into the eye.”
We’ve restored vision where there was none.” said Prof Lyndon da Cruz, consultant retinal surgeon at Moorfields, “It’s incredibly exciting. As you get older, parts of you stop working and for the first time we’ve been able to take a cell and make it into a specific part of the eye that’s failing and put it back in the eye and get vision back.”
“This study represents real progress in regenerative medicine,” said Prof Pete Coffey, from the UCL Institute of Ophthalmology, “We hope this will lead to an affordable ‘off-the-shelf’ therapy that could be made available to NHS patients within the next five years.”
Eight other patients are now taking part in similar trials at the institute.