Three patients in Australia have had their eyesight restored through the use of contact lenses cultured with the patient’s own stem cells collected from their working eye according to The Australian journal.
Stem cell research is a very exciting prospect in the medical world right now. Stem Cells are special cells that have the ability to grow into adult tissue, they are the foundation for every organ, tissue and cell in the human body.
Research suggests that stem cells may be able to repair or replace damaged tissue, thereby reversing diseases and injuries such as cancer, liver disease, blindness and much more (learn more at Tell Me About Stem Cells).
Two of the three patients were legally blind in the treated eye before the procedure began in Australia; they can now read the large letters on the optical eye chart. The third patient was able read the top few rows of the chart but can now pass the vision test for a driving license according to team member Stephanie Watson – an ophthalmic surgeon with the Prince of Wales Hospital in Sydney.
Dr Di Girolamo said the idea to team stem cells with contact lenses came from an observation by opthalogist and POWH co-author Minas Coroneo that stem cells from the cornea, or front of the eye, stick to contact lenses.
Less than a millimetre of tissue was taken from the side of each patients’ cornea to collect the stem cells. Working with colleagues at POWH and the University of New South Wales, the stem cells from the tissue were cultured in extended wear contact lenses.
The surface of the patients’ corneas were cleaned and the new contact lenses were then inserted. Within 10 to 14 days the stem cells began to attach to the cornea, replenishing damaged cells. Happy that the stem cells were doing their job, Dr Watson removed the lenses and the patients have been seeing with new eyes for the last 18 months.
The procedure is apparently fairly simple, easy and painless for the patient and is not that expensive, meaning that it could even be possible in poorer nations.
Some people might argue that Stem Cell research is man’s attempt at playing God, after all, everyone knows the story of Frankenstein, but I for one think it is absolutely fantastic. What is wrong with allowing a person to enjoy a better quality of life? My hat is off to all these pioneering scientists and doctors.