Research shows great potential for stem cell eye surgery

People with sight problems could benefit from landmark research which shows how adult stem cells help restore the surface of the eye.

Doctors in Scotland carried out a clinical trial using stem cells to create tissue that was then transplanted into patients.

The study of 16 people with limbal stem cell deficiency, a condition that causes blindness, will help provide greater understanding of the causes of sight disorders.

‘Unique ability’

Researchers from The University of Edinburgh and the Scottish National Blood Transfusion Service isolated stem cells in the cornea – the eye’s protective layer.

The team then grew the stem cells into tissue ready to be transplanted.

The 16 patients were split into two groups, and one group was given the stem cells.

Significant improvement

Patients who had received stem cells showed significant repair of the eye’s surface over 18 months.

Researchers now recommend further investigation with a larger trial.

Professor Baljean Dhillon, from the Centre for Clinical Brain Sciences at The University of Edinburgh, said: “The findings from this small study are very promising and show the potential for safe stem cell eye surgery as well as improvements in eye repair.”