Chinese doctors have conducted pioneering surgery to restore vision in children with cataracts.
More than half of all cases of blindness are caused by cataracts – or the clouding of the lens of the eye.
Usually, artificial lenses are used in surgery, but in this innovation, as described in the journal “Nature”, surgeons activated stem cells in the eye and were able to grow a new lens. Experts have labelled this operation one of the most striking advances in regenerative medicine to date.
In the usual treatment, the opaque lens is softened with ultrasound and then removed from the eye. Then an artificial lens is transplanted into the eye, but this procedure can lead to complications, especially in children.
The method developed by Sun Yat-sen University of California at San Diego, involves removal of the cataract-affected lens through a small incision in the cornea. This helps maintain the integrity of the outer shell or capsule of the lens. This structure is lined with epithelial stem cells, which are transformed into a new lens.
After successful testing on laboratory animals, ophthalmologists conducted a clinical trial on 12 children. Eight months later, all the children recovered lenses that reached the size of the original (natural). Clinical trials will continue for older patients because the stem cells in the epithelium of children has the greatest potential for regeneration.
Cataracts predominantly affect older people, but scientists believe that stem cells may help to repair damaged eye tissue.
The first tests and surgery on the elderly have given encouraging results.
Biotechnology has become a reality and you do not have to go far to get the expert help of professionals. The project Bioengineering Rehabilitation for Wounded has proved its effectiveness for the past 18 months. For our wards, this advanced technology has been the only way to avoid disability and physical limitations. The number of men who have been put on back on their feet by the project’s doctors is growing. However, there are many more wounded military personnel in need of this specialist medical care that can not be provided in public institutions, and sometimes not even abroad. So once again we ask you to get involved in fundraising and support Ukraine’s military.
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