Stem Cell Eye Treatment 2022( All You Need To Know About It)

The eyes are often called the windows to our souls. While you might dismiss this as a creative adage, there is no denying that vision is one of our most important senses. It is also widely known that it is very difficult to treat eye diseases. Most of them are irreversible and lead to loss of vision. So far, medical science does not have any treatment to restore vision, apart from corneal transplants in a few select cases. But what if we told you this is about to change? Read on to learn about stem cell therapy—the newest therapy that has the potential to restore vision!

By Simran Kaur

Updated on 23rd, Nov'22

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Overview

The eye is a complex organ made of several parts. Damage to any one of these parts can lead to eye diseases, many of which are irreversible. 

 

Some of the common eye diseases are:

  • Age-related diseases like Age-related Macular Degeneration (AMD), Cataract, Glaucoma, and Diabetic Retinopathy
  • Corneal diseases
  • Optic Nerve Damage
  • Dry Eyes
  • Vision Loss from injury
  • Retinal Detachment

Eye diseases are caused by a variety of causes, some of which are:

Questions concept illustration

  • Age 
  • Dietary deficiencies of Vitamin A, C, or E
  • Exposure to UV rays
  • Uncontrolled diabetes or hypertension

How do stem cells play into the treatment of such diseases?

 

Let us first understand what a stem cell is. 

 

A stem cell is an unspecialized cell found in our bodies, which can differentiate into any tissue.

 

They can also repair damaged cells and regenerate new cells. Stem cells produce growth factors, which help them multiply rapidly, eventually replacing all the damaged or dead cells of a particular organ with fully functioning ones.

 

There are numerous types of stem cells including embryonic stem cells, induced pluripotent stem cells, mesenchymal stem cells, and neural stem cells.

 

Of these, mesenchymal stem cells derived from bone marrow, and induced pluripotent stem cells are used the most for the treatment of eye diseases.

Stem cells are freely available in our bodies. After the discovery of their special properties, researchers have been studying them intensively to treat eye diseases.

 

At present, eye stem cell treatment is undergoing clinical trials and is not FDA approved. The results of these trials have been very promising, giving hope to researchers that one day stem cells will be able to cure all types of eye diseases.

 

Stem Cell Eye Treatment Clinical TrialsScientists working in modern laboratory

Around the world, several clinical trials are underway to treat various eye diseases. A research paper by Ben Mead et al.1 reviewed all these clinical trials to get a better understanding of how successful these trials were.

 

But first, they studied the different types of stem cells used for these treatments, and how effective they were in curing eye diseases. 

 

They concluded that induced pluripotent stem cells and bone marrow-derived mesenchymal stem cells give the most promising results in treating retinal diseases and eye injuries.

 

While embryonic stem cells and neural stem cells are also quite effective in treating eye diseases, they are shrouded in ethical concerns. 

 

Adult neural stem cells have shown impressive results in treating optical nerve damage and stroke-related vision loss. 

 

The paper also noted that the use of mesenchymal stem cells showed no instances of immune reaction, tumor formation, or any ethical dilemmas. Additionally, they are easily available in the patient’s body. 

 

The Present, Future Scope, and Challenges of Stem Cell Therapy in Treating Eye Diseases

While stem cell treatment has displayed amazing potential in treating eye diseases, it is important to remember that we still have a long road ahead of us before this treatment becomes a part of conventional medicine.

 

Certain challenges remain to be resolved. For one, longer follow-ups are required to determine any future ill effects.

 

There is also a current lack of consensus about the route of administration of stem cells in various clinical trials.

 

Despite these challenges, one stem cell research for eyes paper stated that, “Stem cell-based therapy holds an extraordinary prospective in improving the lives of people who suffer from visual disorders.”

 

Eye Diseases Treated by Stem Cell TherapyWoman using eye drop woman dropping eye lubricant to treat dry eye or allergy

At present, stem cells are unable to treat all types of eye diseases. The list of diseases that can still be treated is pretty amazing.

 

Nearly all these diseases are treated by using bone marrow-derived mesenchymal stem cells at present. 

 

We have collated data to help you better understand how the special capabilities of stem cells treat various eye diseases.

Eye DiseaseStem Cell Mechanism Used
Retinal Diseases
  • Stem cells are injected directly into the eye to treat retinal diseases.
  • They repair the retinal pigment epithelium, helping improve vision.
  • A lot of research is still required to get predictable results.
Age-Related Macular Degeneration
  • Stem cells use their properties of repair and regeneration to treat AMD.
  • The release of growth factors helps in cell proliferation, thus slowing down the degeneration.
Optic Nerve Damage
  • The stem cells differentiate into neurons to repair the damage to the optic nerve.
  • They also release neurotrophic factors and form new synaptic connections.
  • Notable success has been achieved for this treatment.
Corneal Eye Diseases
  • Stem cells are directly transplanted into the damaged eye.
  • The stem cells use their repair function to restore the cornea and bring back vision.
Glaucoma
  • The stem cells lower the pressure the eye pressure, successfully treating glaucoma
Vision Loss
  • Vision loss can be due to numerous factors.
  • If it is injury-related, the stem cells will repair the damaged area, restore nerve function, and form new blood vessels.
Dry Eyes
  • Stem cells regenerate eye tissue to relieve dry eyes.
  • They also exert anti-inflammatory properties, alleviating pain.
Diabetic Retinopathy
  • Stem cells repair the damaged retina.
  • They also form new blood vessels and regenerate the retina pigment epithelium, improving vision.
Optic Nerve Atrophy

 

Optic Nerve Atrophy Stem cell treatment has been shown to help those diagnosed with optic atrophy by regenerating and replacing damaged cells in the optic nerve

 

This is a revolutionary procedure for this kind of disease because it gives patients hope that one day their eyesight may return back to normal.

 

Eligibility

Checklist concept illustration

Now that you have seen how stem cells work for various eye diseases,

we are sure you must be wondering, when and for whom is stem cell eye treatment recommended?

 

Each clinical trial has its own set of stringent requirements. However, some general eligibility criteria are:

  • Some stem cells should be present in the eyes to get results
  • The patient should have a progressive eye disease
  • In case of injury-related or stroke-related eye damage, stem cell treatment should be done within the first four weeks of sustaining the injury
  • The patient should not have an extensive medical history
  • The patient should not have uncontrolled diabetes or hypertension
  • There should be a minimum gap of three months between any eye surgery and stem cell treatment

Benefits and Risks of Stem Cell Eye TreatmentFlat young smiley or angry businessman showing finger up or down

Like every medical treatment, eye stem cell therapy also has its benefits and risks. 

 

BenefitsRisks
  • Stem cell treatment has the potential to restore vision, which has not been achieved by any other medical treatment

 

  • This treatment is still undergoing clinical trials

 

  • Stem cells are abundantly available in our bodies

 

  • Risk of infection at the site of injection

 

  • Stem cell therapy is less invasive than nearly all other medical treatments for eye diseases

 

  • Results are not yet predictable

 

 
  • If donor cells are used, there is a risk of rejection

 

 

Don’t the benefits outweigh the risks? 

Stem Cell Eye Treatment Cost

Indian rupee money bag

Finally, we have come to the most important question that we all ask! 

What is the cost? 

 

We are sure, you might be having this question all this while and curious to know the answer for the same, right? 

 

So, let’s not stretch the suspense any longer, and put an end to your curiosity by answering your question. 

 

The cost of stem cell for eye diseases depends on a variety of factors like:

  • The type of eye disease
  • The severity of the disease
  • The type of stem cells required
  • The facility you choose for treatment
  • The number of cycles required

Taking all of this into account, stem cell eye treatment cost in India ranges from 5,000 to 12,000 USD (3.75 to 9 lakhs INR).

 

In comparison, the same treatment costs upwards of 50,000 USD in the US.

Since stem cell eye regeneration is still undergoing clinical trials, it is not covered by medical insurance. All expenses are out-of-pocket.

 

Procedure of Stem Cell Eye TreatmentProcess concept illustration

Are you ready to know what a stem cell therapy for eye entails? 

 

Stem cell treatment is a very simple procedure that can be divided into three steps.

 

ProcedureDetails
Step 1- The extraction of stem cells
  • In most trials, bone marrow-derived stem cells are used. These are extracted from the bone marrow of your hip bone. 
  • You will be given local anesthesia, so you can look forward to a painless procedure.

 

Step 2- The separation of stem cells
  • This is done in a stem cell laboratory by a technique called the ‘density gradient technique.’
  •  All the bone marrow tissue is separated to prepare a concentrated solution of stem cells.

 

Step 3- Stem cell transplantation

This can be done in two ways. 

 

  • The first method is by injecting the stem cells through a lumbar puncture procedure. This is usually done while treating optic nerve damage or stroke-related eye damage.
  • The other method is when the stem cells are injected directly into the eye. This is more common while treating retinal and corneal diseases.

 

Local anesthesia is given in both types to make sure you’re comfortable.

 

 

The whole procedure can take about three days, with additional hospital stay required in a few select cases.

 

What to Expect After Treatment?

Okay, so you got the stem cell eye repair. What now? 

 

The recovery period for stem cell treatment is minimal. You will be asked to avoid direct sunlight and strenuous activity for the first few days.

 

However, you can resume your daily activities in a couple of days.

Right after the procedure, you might feel some dizziness or have a headache. This is temporary and resolves itself in a few hours.

 

You will also be glad to know that stem cells for eyes has no reported long-term side effects. The procedure is completely safe.

 

Yes, you read that right! 

 

Results

Results evaluate progress outcome productivity concept

What kind of results can you expect with stem cell treatment?

Well, you will start seeing an improvement in your symptoms about four weeks after your treatment. This improvement will continue over the next six months.

You can expect:

  • The slowing of progressive diseases
  • A better field of vision
  • Improved night vision and color vision
  • Better visual clarity and acuity

 

Didn’t reading this give you a new light of hope? 

 

Indeed, stem cell therapy is a lamp that replaces the darkness in one’s life with a new light and helps one see the beautiful world! 

 

Success Rates of Stem Cell Eye TreatmentOpen hand with colorful graphic

The success rates of stem cell eye treatment are based on several factors, including the type of eye disease and its severity. 

 

Surprisingly, most clinical studies from different parts of the world have been reporting nearly similar success rates. On average, the success rate of stem cell treatment is 76%.

 

Isn’t that a huge figure? 

 

Where is Stem Cell Eye Treatment Available?World map with global technology or social connection network with nodes and links vector illustration

Stem cell therapy is available in several countries like India, US, Spain, and Japan. A word of caution is necessary here. 

 

Since this treatment is not FDA approved, it is necessary to thoroughly research the clinical trial you enter. Ensure that it is monitored by its country’s regulatory authority to prevent getting scammed.

 

So, do you think stem cell therapy is the future of eye treatment?

References:

Frequently Asked Questions
Question and Answers (151)

What is stem cell penile enlargement cost?

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Dr. Arun Kumar's profile picture
Dr. Arun Kumar

When will stem cell teeth be available in India?

Asked anonymously on 9th May, 2022 at 5:38 pm

Stem cell teeth availability in India is still under research 

Dr. Pradeep Mahajan's profile picture
Dr. Pradeep Mahajan

Are there any phytoscience double stem cell side effect?

Asked anonymously on 9th May, 2022 at 5:36 pm
Dr. Pradeep Mahajan's profile picture
Dr. Pradeep Mahajan

Hi, I am a parent of a child with autism. We are interested in stem cell therapy for autism. Could you please send me a list of the hospitals in India that treat autism with stem cells therapy? Looking forward to hearing from you soon. Regards Babu Pandey baburam78@yahoo.com

Asked anonymously on 1st May, 2022 at 8:58 am

We have good result in autism cases. Kindly share report and video of patient. Also try to schedule call.

Dr. Pradeep Mahajan's profile picture
Dr. Pradeep Mahajan

My daughter is 15 she is suffering with itilectval disablity.is it possible to treat her with stem cell therapy.how much cost it will be please reply as soon as possible

Asked anonymously on 20th April, 2022 at 5:47 pm

Yes it is possible. We have good results in development delayed cases. Without seeing reports we can't disclose treatment cost. Kindly ask for reports and schedule call. 

Dr. Pradeep Mahajan's profile picture
Dr. Pradeep Mahajan
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Dr. Darshini Mehta's profile picture

Medically reviewed by Dr. Darshini Mehta - BDS

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