Stem Cells Used to Treat Blindness

Julie Shenkman
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What if someone said there was a cure for the blind and those with other sight concerns? After a round of clinical trials, the evidence is clear, and stem cells have been used to treat blindness and other vision problems in patients. The patients are only a few years into the clinical study, but researches are hopeful that their vision correction is a permanent solution to their sight problems.

An investigational cure to treat blindness has been proven effective in two early studies completed after the treatment. The treatment included 18 different patients who received embryonic stem cells, and so far, it seems to be safe for patients. In the studies, more than 50 percent of the patients had vision improvement.

The patients have been examined and studied for three years since they had the treatments. The studies are the first to imply an embryonic stem cell treatment can be safe for humans after an extended period of time.

Embryonic stem cells have the ability to become any type of cell in the body. Stem cells are known to be controversial by some medical professionals and scientists, because to gather the stem cells, the embryos must be destroyed. Some researchers think that adult stem cells should be used in an attempt to treat blindness, because the adult stem cells can be pulled from tissue, leaving the embryo intact.

There are other different types of blindness and eye conditions that have benefited from this type of treatment. In studies going on today, scientists are changing stem cells into retinal cells to treat people who are suffering from macular degeneration. This can also help patients who have Stargardt's macular dystrophy. Stargardt’s macular dystrophy is the leading causes of blindness in both children and adults.

This clinical trial that has been proved successful didn't have a lot of patients, and the next phase of the trial to treat blindness is supposed to include many more. The longer term affects of using stem cells to help treat the human body are still yet to be seen, and more information about side-effects, relapse and other issues will be gathered when there are more people to study. Until this treatment is further studied and tested, it won't be approved for use in America by the FDA.

This new discovery gives hope to those who have lost their eye sight with age, or because of a disease, and also for those who are born with various ocular problems. This study to treat blindness has opened the door for researchers to continue using stem cells for the treatment of other health conditions, and this treatment may be available for those suffering from vision problems at a local medical facility in the future.


Photo courtesy of Ambro at



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  • Nancy Anderson
    Nancy Anderson

    We have to wait for it to be approved by the FDA before we can even be considered for this in the US. I would imagine it would be expensive and that it will take time for it to be allowed by insurance companies. But this is true with any new breakthrough in health and science. How awesome it will be when this happens. Check with your doctor and mention this study.



  • Atef T.
    Atef T.

    does this apply to glaucoma related visual loss ?


    How do you sign up for these trials?

  • linda stoner
    linda stoner

    If effective... it will be wonderful! Great study!

  • Natalie c.
    Natalie c.

    This is magnificent

  • Augustine T.
    Augustine T.

    This study, if proven successful, will proffer justification for the use of stem cells. Great study.

  • Teresa Glendenning
    Teresa Glendenning

    Maybe there is hope for my 6 year old granddaughter.

  • Lavleen W.
    Lavleen W.

    Excellent news....

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