At OCLI, we’re dedicated to improving our patients’ vision. It’s our mission to help as many people as we can to enjoy the benefits of clear, healthy vision. But for as long as humans have been on this earth, there have been those who from birth, or from accident or disease, are now blind. It’s estimated that 3.4 million people in the U.S. alone are legally blind or visually impaired, and there are millions more around the world with these disabilities.
Yet there is reason to be optimistic. While there isn’t currently an overall “cure” for blindness, researchers are making promising strides in their work to treat those who are blind. It’s an intriguing subject, and we wanted to share some of the recent advances with you.
Gene therapy is one of the treatments that has had promising results in human subjects recently. Roughly speaking, gene therapy works by injecting a working good copy of a gene into the eye, replacing the genetic mutation that is the cause of blindness for some people. While the work still has a long way to go, there have already been a number of success stories, and more trials for gene therapy are set to start soon.
Stem cells are another area where promising work is being done in treating blindness. Injecting stem cells into the eye has shown promise for curing those with age-related macular degeneration. Because the cells have the potential to form into any other types of cells in the body, the idea is that they could be used to replace non-working photoreceptors.
This treatment may be the furthest away from widespread use at the moment. However, trials are moving forward and stem cells look like they’re another piece to the puzzle when it comes to curing blindness.
All of these treatments are fascinating, but biomedical implants tend to capture the imagination of those who read about them. The basic idea is that we can replace failed retinal cells with tiny microchips that can collect or amplify light. It has the potential to treat macular degeneration, glaucoma, diabetic retinopathy, and other eye-related diseases that cause blindness or severely impaired vision. It’s enough for those who have formerly been blind to make out large objects and shapes. That’s a huge step forward, and researchers are hoping to keep improving the treatment and technology behind it.
Together, stem cell research, gene therapy, and biomedical implants are all being used to help finally cure blindness. And the day when that happens may be closer than you think. There is promising work being done in all of these fields, and while researchers caution that trials and improvements could take years, we’re closer than we ever have been to curing blindness.
We can’t cure blindness at OCLI, but we can drastically improve vision and help you enjoy life without corrective lenses. Give us a call today and let’s get started!