A new procedure to help people with damaged corneas is showing promise in three patients so far. A team from the University of New South Wales in Sydney takes stem cells from the patient’s good eye and cultures them in a contact lens. When the cells have multiplied, they place the lens over the patient’s affected eye and leave it for around three weeks. During that time, the cells begin to grow into the damaged cornea and help regenerate it. In effect, it’s a stem cell transplant from one eye to the other.
Researcher Dr Nick Di Girolamo said: ‘The procedure is totally simple and cheap.
‘Unlike other techniques, it requires no foreign human or animal products, only the patient’s own serum, and is completely non-invasive.
‘There’s no suturing, there is no major operation. You don’t need any fancy equipment.’
The contact lenses used in the operation are already widely used after eye surgery.
The researchers hope the technique can be adapted for other parts of the eye, such as the retina, and even elsewhere in the body.