Stem Cells Provide Hope For A Potential Treatment of Glaucoma

Editor's Choice Main Category: Stem Cell Research Also Included In: Eye Health / Blindness Article Date: 04 Dec 2012 - 0:00 PST

Current ratings for: Stem Cells Provide Hope For A Potential Treatment of Glaucoma

Irreversible blindness is most often caused by glaucoma in today's world. About 1 in 50 people over the age of 40 in the UK struggle with glaucoma. The odds increase for people aged 75 years and older, affecting 1 in 10. Since the condition is age-related, it is becoming more prevalent as the UK population gets older.

Glaucoma is often an insidious, progressive condition which results in harm to the optic nerve. Once the person realizes that damage has been done, some of loss of vision has already taken place.

Risk factors associated with glaucoma include:

The team experimented with a potential treatment that involves using the patient's own stem cells. Professor Raisman was able to halve the loss of optic nerve fibers caused by raised eye pressure by transferring a few olfactory ensheathing cells into the area of the optic nerve. This also caused reduced the harm to the optic nerve tissue.

The progression of glaucoma can be stopped by a few treatments, including medication and eye surgery to lower the pressure in the eye. One previous report indicated that eye drops containing nerve growth factor could halt glaucoma symptoms.

However, no therapies can treat vision loss, and unfortunately, the progression towards blindness cannot be prevented in a significant number of people.

This study increases the chance that a simple surgical procedure, using cells taken from the patient, could guide scientists to a future technique that could stop the horrible outcome of glaucoma, Professor Raisman said, even though the procedure is still at the experimental stage.

Professor Khaw added:

Stem Cells Provide Hope For A Potential Treatment of Glaucoma

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