Eye Injury and Disease
The eye is a complex organ and damage or disease to any of its parts – including the cornea, retina and optic nerve – can cause vision loss. Some eye diseases can be traced to a genetic defect (i.e., Stargardt’s disease and retinitis pigmentosa) while others may arise from complications related to aging (i.e., cataracts and glaucoma) or illnesses such as diabetes. For some conditions, such as cataracts, surgery is available to improve vision, but many eye diseases and injuries have few, if any, treatment options.
Currently there are no Health Canada or FDA approved stem cell treatments available for eye disease or injury, although the European Commission recently gave conditional approval for Holoclar, a stem-cell graft tissue used to treat patients with burns or abrasive injuries to the eye. Other research and early stage clinical trials is looking at the use of stem cells to treat conditions such as age-related macular degeneration.