Stem cells retrieved from the area between the white and black part of an eyeball can restore the sight in those who have lost their vision due to corneal blindness. It was tested and verified in a research carried out by doctors at the LV Prasad Eye Hospital in collaboration with the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, USA.
According to Dr Sayan Basu, Consultant Corneal Surgeon, at LV Prasad Eye Institute, the stromal cells were found in the area between the black and white portions of the eyeball known as the limbus. When these cells are applied to injured corneas, the corneas healed in a span of four weeks of treatment.
There are 1,40,000 cases of corneal blindness in India. This happens because of scarring or whitening of the cornea. This happens due to infection, poke in the eye, injury, accident or any other trauma to the eye. When this scarring happens, patients lose vision.
Currently, the treatment is corneal transplant where a donor cornea is required and 25 stitches in the eye are needed. The risk of infection and rejection by the body is very high. The cornea lasts for six to eight years as the body’s immune system later attacks it.
NEW HOPE, NEW TREATMENT
Due to these issues, scientists have been looking at stem cells. The first phase of trials is being carried out at present on 10 patients at the LV Prasad Eye Hospital and the results have been very encouraging. With phase 1 to be complete by March 2015, and the results being encouraging, the hospital will involve 50 people in phase II of human trials. The system, once standardised after these processes, will be available for the public in three years time.