It’s no longer a hope; but very close to real — neurons in the retina of the eye that are damaged and cause vision problems can be regenerated.

This has opened up the possibilities for opthalmologists to reconstitute the neural network in the eye of an adult retina, a Japanese Scientist from Kobe. Retina performs the critical role of converting the light rays into neural signals and transfers it to the brain for visual recognition.

  1. It also happens to be the innermost part of the eye, which is considered to be the window to the world for a human being.
  2. Two of the major diseases of the eye — age-related macular degeneration (ARMD) and Retinitis Pigmentosa (RP) — both affect the retina and can lead to blindness. 
  3. India carries a major burden of eye diseases and blindness. Estimates put the number of people suffering from RP at half a million while another 1.4 million are carriers. With the percentage of ageing population growing,
  4. ARMD is also expected to see a dramatic rise in the near future. Some studies project doubling of numbers from the present threeto six million by 2020.
  5. Research on stem cells and their role in eye diseases is being carried out in a few places in India. At the Hyderabed-based, LV Prasad Eye Institute substantial progress has been achieved in stems cells research and medical applications and treatment related to corneal diseases.
  6. In what is promising to be a path-breaking work, the Japanese scientists led by Takashashi from the Laboratory for Retinal Regeneration, RIKEN Centre for Developmental Biology, Kobe have made progress in regenerating new neurons in damaged retina and transplanting new one’s from outside to tackle retinal problems.
  7. The sustained work of the team led to the big breakthrough in 2017 March with the first successful transplant of IPS-derived retinal cells into the eye of a patient suffering from advanced wet age-related macular degeneration.
  8. During the surgery the patient received a transplant of approximately 250,000 retinal pigment epithelial cells into the eye generated from donor-derived iPSC.