Vision Can Be Restored With Stem Cells, Research Shows

First Posted: Oct 06, 2015 10:15 PM EDT

Vision can now be restored through new stem cell research development, conducted by Professor Gilbert Bernier of the University of Montreal and the Maisonneuve-Rosemont Hospital, according to a recent news release.

Age-related macular degeneration (AMRD) which is the loss of cones in the eye, is one of the most common causes of blindness among people age 50 and older. However, researchers now believe that it can be reversed through Bernier's new stem cell study.

Bernier and his team have managed to develop an effective in vitro technique for producing light sensitive retina cells from human embryonic stem cells. The researchers' method is capable of differentiating 80 percent of stem cells into pure cones, which then grow to become retinal tissue, according to Bernier.

Human cones have been difficult to obtain for many years. Yet Bernier's discovery now offers a solution in overcoming AMRD that also offers itself as an easier way to solve the issue.

"Researchers have been trying to achieve this kind of trial for years. Thanks to our simple and effective approach, any laboratory in the world will now be able to create masses of photoreceptors. Even if there's a long way to go before launching clinical trials, this means, in theory, that will be eventually be able to treat countless patients," Bernier said in a news release. 

As people age, especially those over 80, the retina in the eye ages with them. Those with ARMD gradually lose their perception of colors and details, and they can almost no longer read, write, watch television or even recognize other people.

Bernier's finding could help facilitate the restoration of vision in many individuals who suffer from ARMD eye diseases.

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