Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is a serious disorder that affects the retina, causes a progressive loss of visual acuity, and can blind people who suffer from it. The main problem presented by this disease is that the treatments currently available allow slowing down the progress of the pathology, but do not cure it completely and, in addition, they are not effective in all patients.

A group of researchers has just carried out a study, which has been published in The Lancet, in which they have used embryonic stem cell with two octogenarian patients who had lost almost all vision because of AMD. And the results achieved have surprised the scientists themselves.

The scientists injected the embryonic stem cells into the right eye of a patient, practically blind, who, after treatment, claimed to be able to distinguish the time on her wristwatch

In the study, led by ophthalmologist Steven D. Schwartz, of the Jules Stein Eye Institute in the United States, they used this type of stem cells to develop pigment epithelial cells in the laboratory - which are part of the outer area of ​​the retina - and they injected them into the right eye of one of the patients, who was practically blind and who, after the treatment, declared that she could distinguish the time on her wristwatch.

The scientists wanted to see how the stem cells behaved, and they did not expect such significant improvement in patients with such impaired vision. However, despite the good results obtained with the experiment, the authors of the study explain that it is still early to consider that the procedure used can be converted into a new therapy against AMD, and that it is necessary to carry out new studies that include a more patients, and observe how they evolve, to determine if the treatment is safe and effective.

Professor Pete Coffey at the Macular Society London Conference 2015 (November 2019).