If you were diagnosed with a degenerative eye illness, such as cataract or macular degeneration, your doctor might have told you there is no treatment. In fact, there are treatments, but all they can do is slow down the progression of the disease, but they don't restore the eyesight. Of course, this is really bad news for anyone. Luckily, new research can provide a solution for patients suffering from these degenerative diseases: regenerative medicine.
Cell renewal and degenerative diseases
Before we can talk about treatments for cataract we need to talk about neurogenesis, which is the process of growing new neurons in the brain. Neurogenesis can post-pone and provide relieve in mental degenerative diseases, like dementia or Alzheimer’s. Research showed that people with a high level of neurogenesis have a lower risk of developing dementia.
The implications of this study are very important for all patients who plan on undergoing regenerative medicine therapy, according to Dr. Leon Reyfman, specialist in stem cell therapy.
Apart from stem cells which can be “trained” to develop into any type of cells, neurons and eye cells can also be used in regenerative therapies, thanks to their capacity to renew themselves.
Based on their findings regarding neurogenesis, researchers began to focus on developing new therapies which can restore eyesight in patients with cataract. The most effective treatments were stem cell therapy, reprogramming therapy and preservation therapy.
Stem cell therapy
Stem cell therapy can be used to restore a patient's eyesight. Stem cells can be transplanted into the retina of the effected eye. However, there are a lot of challenges when it comes to this type of treatment, the most important one being the time challenge. Timing is critical in stem cell therapy, but no one can know when the patient will need the stem cells and storing them is quite problematic. Another challenge is growing enough stem cells.
Another approach to degenerative eye condition is collecting retinal cells and reprogramming them retinal ganglion cells, which can regenerate and restore the patient's vision. This option can be used on patients who suffer from genetically inherited retinal disease.
Preservation therapies focus on preserving the patient’s eyesight using a mix of therapies, including retinal ganglion cells and stem cells. These treatments come as a preventative measure for people who are prone to losing their eyesight, like those who have a family history of degenerative eyes disease.
Protect your eyesight
Until these therapies will become widely available, you can do a number of things to protect your vision as much as possible. What you eat can promote better eyesight and help prevent vision loss. Raise your intake of Omega 3 fatty acids, curcumin, magnesiun, zinc and prebiotics. Drink green tea, which is rich in antioxidants and remove foods rich in sugar or those that are heavily processed from your diet. Daily exercising and getting enough sunlight can also help you preserve your eyesight.
Because vision problems are very common, developing new treatments which promise to regenerate the damaged retinal tissue is very important, as well as monitoring your vision on regular basis to spot any potential problems as soon as possible.