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Researchers are pioneering a new approach to cataract treatment that’s had stunning results so far. Rather than replacing a cloudy lens with an artificial one, Chinese researchers at the Sun Yat-Sen University in collaboration with a team in San Diego at the University of California have proven that it’s possible to grow a new lens instead. Though this study focused primarily on cataract treatment in children, the study did include elderly patients as well with successful results.
The procedure used in stem cell therapy for pediatric cataract treatment included the surgical removal of the damaged lens, but unlike conventional treatment for cataracts, the outer lens capsule was left intact. Leaving the lens capsule intact greatly reduced the possibility of complications. Stem cells are then put along the inside of the lens capsule to repair damage and within 8 months, study participants had completely regenerated their lens.
Though the risk of complication is very low with conventional surgical treatment of cataracts, this novel approach carries an even lower rate of complication. And the ability to regrow a natural lens as opposed to transplanting an artificial one has other benefits too. Patients with a natural lens that grows from stems cells have better vision when observing objects at differing distances.
Evans, D. (2019). Breakthrough Eye Regeneration Procedure a Success. Retrieved January 31, 2020 from https://www.bettervisionguide.com/stem-cell-cataract-treatment-breakthrough/
Gallagher, J. (2016).‘Stunning’ operation regenerates eye’s lens. Retrieved January 31, 2020 from https://www.bbc.com/news/health-35762713
Weil, A. (2019). Cataracts. Retrieved January 31, 2020 from https://www.drweil.com/health-wellness/body-mind-spirit/vision/cataracts/