In case you are wondering, a cataract is a clouding of the eye’s natural lens. It is the most common cause of vision loss in people over age 40 and is the principle cause of blindness in the world. Cataracts can also be a problem to many new born infants and toddlers. Recently, a dozen of infants who were born with cataracts are being treated with a radical new stem cell therapy to regain their eye sight. The purpose of this new stem cell therapy is to regenerate healthy lenses in their eyes without making too many damages.
Before, when children develop cataracts at birth or soon after, they can be treated by making large incisions in the eyes, removing the cloudy lens, and replacing it with an artificial one. But the surgery can cause inflammation and can destroy the stem cells that protect the lens in the process.
The new stem cell treatment was first tested on animals before treating the 12 infants. To treat the children, surgeons made incisions no larger than 1.5mm in both eyes to remove the cloudy lens, making sure the lens capsules which surround the lens and preserve the stem cells intact. This leaves the incisions to heal, and new clear lenses to grow back within three months. According to Kang Zhang, a Professor of Ophthalmology and also who led the study, “the lens regenerated remarkably well. It is science at its best.”
It is still unclear that this new stem cell therapy will also work on adults with cataracts, but this sure can change many children’s lives. Click here to learn more about cell therapy and how it can change your life.