Macular degeneration associated with age, or maculopathy, is the leading cause of blindness on the planet and affects people over 65. The good news is that, recently, two patients who were at an advanced stage of the disease recovered their vision after being treated with stem cells.
Stem cells treatment has been already applied with success in two patients
The first patient achieved an improvement of six lines, which is impressive, while the second patient reached five lines improvement and will improve over the course of the future months.
Asked about this scientific progress the researchers who implemented the stem cells treatment for macular degeneration made, the ophthalmologist Matias Iglicki said that “the technique is very important because it is about reversing the first cause of blindness in the world”.
The professor at the Ophthalmology class at the University of Buenos Aires (UBA) explained that “nowadays existing medications are used until when the maculopathy is in the wet and dry phase but there is no treatment for when it passes to the stadium scar”.
Stem cells repair the epithelial cells in the retina
The retina has ten layers, and one of them is the pigmentary epithelium, which is the one that is naturally damaged in the aging process.
In the scarring phase of maculopathy (macular degeneration), the epithelium is scarred and does not fulfill any function, hence the revolutionary of this new technique, which consists of applying a ‘patch’ of stem cells in the area, which are those that they have the capacity to adapt to the environment in which they are implanted and to become, in this case, pigment epithelial cells.
Risk factors for macular degeneration
In macular degeneration, the age is a risk factor that can not be avoided but we must know that smoking increases the risk of developing maculopathy by three times and an unhealthy diet is also exposing to macular degeneration.
Early diagnosis is important key; The first thing that a patient can notice is a metamorphopsia or the alteration of the straight lines. These incipient symptoms should lead to a consultation with an ophthalmologist.
In conclusion, macular degeneration caused by aging, or maculopathy, can be treated with stem cells.