The first stem cell tissue transplant eye operation in Ireland recently took place in the Royal Victoria Eye and Ear Hospital in Dublin.
This treatment used a particular type of stem cell called a limbal stem cell to repair damage to the cornea — the clear, protective outer layer at the front of the eye. This promising therapy is the culmination of over 20 years of excellent basic, preclinical and clinical research conducted by a team of internationally renowned scientists in the field of epithelial stem cell biology and includes researchers at the National Institute for Cellular Biotechnology, Dublin City University.
While this is an exciting step forward for vision loss resulting from damage to the cornea, repairing the retina (which is located at the back of the eye) using stem cells is more challenging. The retina is more complicated than other components of the eye but the retinal research community are committed to developing a safe and successful stem cell technology for people who are affected by retinal degenerations. This particular step forward will serve to provide further insight into the development of safe and effective stem cell treatments to save or restore vision lost to retinal diseases.