So we all know I am a HUGE supporter of stem cell research, and I was practically running in circles when I heard that they had lifted the ban on it. We should also know (most of you) that I am practically as close to blind as one can be while still having vision. I was over joyed when I found this article retweeted by FirstDigg.
To sum up the article, the scientists have worked their magic on three patients, with little or no vision, and waited patiently to see the results. Essentially what they have learned is that when they extract stem cells from the patient’s working eye, and culture them into a contact for 10 days, it can be worn by the patient. After it’s worn by the patient for 10-14 days, the stem cells will actually start to recolonize and repair the cornea. Two of the LEGALLY BLIND patients can now read the big letters on those little eye seeing chart thingys, and one who was pretty damn close to blind can now pass the vision part of the driver’s license exam. While this has only been involving three patients so far, I think it is safe to assume that this is an amazing breakthrough for science… especially for us ‘blind as a bat’ people. It has been 18 months since the experiment and they are still enjoying their miraculous vision.
I’m hoping that this is something that will keep improving as they work out the glitches. If I really think hard about this, since the body is using their own stem cells, there is an extremely low risk of the rejection like the kind that can happen with artificial corneal implants.
While I would like to say that this is something I would try, I can’t particularly vouch for it just yet. The improvement on the vision isn’t extraordinary enough to make me put some serious thought into it. I enjoy having perfect vision with my contacts and I don’t think I would sacrifice that and dish out the money for a surgery that will give me sub-par vision. I do agree that this is fantastic for extreme cases where the patients are next to blind and really want any kind of improvement at all. It is truly wonderful for them.
I really, REALLY wanted lasik, but I have a really bad astigmatism that isn’t even the same in both eyes, so I’m not sure if I can be an ideal patient for the procedure. That, and there’s still the risk of going blind or the surgery not working with that. I watched a video of it once and it is some seriously creepy and life scarring stuff. Imagine seeing a laser cut and fold over a cornea. I have a severe eye-phobia and I just wanted to throw up all over the place. Not to mention you’re only mildly sedated during the operation, and for the next few days you have to look like an old person that can’t drive correctly with the serious size of the blinders you get to rock. Really though, wearing contacts all the time is awful, and even having a pair of glasses is STILL just as bad because you have something attached to your face. I can only hope they perfect this procedure soon, because it can help a lot of people! ANOTHER WIN FOR SCIENCE! HOORAY!
PS: Stay tuned for my next post. It is completely unrelated to anything science or news worthy, but it’s pretty damn hilarious. It has to do with me, and old irate guy on campus, and getting the cops called. It will be a hilarious read, I promise you that.