For patients who have lost their vision due to degenerative retinal disease, the dream of seeing again might just be a reality. After a unanimous recommendation for approval by the Ophthalmic Devices Advisory Panel in September 2012, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has now officially approved Second Sight’s Argus II Retinal Prosthesis System, aka “the bionic eye” .
Researchers at UCLA’s Jules Stein Eye Institute and colleagues have successfully used specialized retinal cells derived from human embryonic stem cells to improve the vision of two legally blind patients.
The trial was led by Dr. Steven Schwartz, opthalmologist and chief of the retina division at the Institute. Although the results are extremely promising, only two patients were treated. The trial will have to be preformed successfully many more times before the procedure can be accepted as an option for care.
Nevertheless, the preliminary findings represent a milestone in the therapeutic use of stem cells and may pave the way for a new therapy to treat eye diseases. The research was recently published online in the journal The Lancet.
Source: UCLA Newsroom