Douglas Waters who is now 86, could not see things with his right eye. But, having undergone operation using the stem cell therapy, he said: “I can now read the newspaper with it”.
The stem cell therapy was performed at Moorefield Eye Hospital in London. Mr. Douglas Waters, together with a woman, underwent the cell therapy. It was discovered that cells from the embryo were grown into a patch which was carefully injected into the back of the human eye (the retina). Mr. Douglas Waters who lives in London battled macular degeneration, also known as age-related macular degeneration (AMD ARMD) three years before now.
The word ‘macular’ is the part of the eye (near the centre of the retina) which constitutes the region of maximum visual acuity. In humans, its diameter is about 5.5 mm (0.22in). Thus, the macular plays a role in the recognition of faces, watching of TV reading of books, in colour vision, etc.
‘Couldn’t see anything’
According to Mr. Douglas Waters, he said that he couldn’t see anything prior to the operation. He says: “In the months before the operation, my sight was really poor and I couldn’t see anything out of my right eye.
“It’s brilliant what the team has done and I feel so lucky to have been given my sight back.”
Doctors who are in this field of eye surgery have worked very hard so much that they have devised a way of building a new retina pigment epithelium and implanting it in a surgical manner into the human eye.
The technique used started with what we call ‘embryonic stem cells’. These are special cells that have the capacity to divide for a long period of time and retain their ability to produce all cell type in the human body. These cells are converted into the type of cell that makes up the retina pigment epithelium and placed into a scaffold (a supporting framework) to hold them firmly. The living patch, which is 6mm long and 4mm wide, is placed underneath the rods and cones in the back of the human eye. The operation lasts 2 hours.
Prof Lyndon da Cruz, consultant retina surgeon at Moorfields, told the BBC: “We’ve restored vision where there was none.
“It’s incredibly exciting. As you get older, parts of you stop working and for the first time we’ve been able to take a cell and make it into a specific part of the eye that’s failing and put it back in the eye and get vision back.”
Professor Lyndon didn’t call this technique a ‘permanent cure’ because the normal vision nature has given is not absolutely restored to a patient.