Stem Cell Blindness Treatment. Is there a stem cell cure for blindness? We’ve kinda been blogging about this for some time but, to date, the evidence we came across that stem cells can restore a patient’s eyesight are only anecdotal.
For instance, back in 2012, we reported that British TV presenter/model Katie Piper has undergone a stem cell treatment after a horrific acid attack which damaged her eyes. Four years later, it appears that Katie is doing well health-wise. She’s now married and is the mom of a two-year old daughter. Oh, she currently also serves as the ambassador for the UK Stem Cell Foundation.
Another anecdotal story about a stem cell blindness treatment procedure that has, so far, proven successful is the case of Vanna Belton.
According to The Baltimore Sun, Belton underwent a stem cell treatment — as part of a clinical trial for which she paid $20,000 — under Dr. Jeffrey N. Weiss. Did it work? She has reportedly regained some limited vision and is very happy with the outcome.
Dr. Weiss published the case of Belton in the journal Neural Regeneration Research in February this year. Aside from Hanna, the doctor claims that he treated 278 patients with vision problems (macular degeneration, glaucoma and other diseases) and that 60% of them regained their sight.
However, he still has to present more details of his trials which he reportedly plans to do. We would add updates to this case once his report becomes available.
Now, what are other medical professionals saying about this stem cell blindness treatment?
Dr. Henry John Klassen, associate professor and director of the Stem Cell & Regeneration Program at the University of California, Irvine welcomes it. He, understandably, also wants to see more details about the 60% of patients that Dr. Weiss claim to have cured.
The Baltimore Star quotes Dr. Klassen as saying, “I don’t want to play down the results of this patient. It’s always great when a patient seems better. … If 60 percent of his patients have improved, that would be a strong claim, and that’s what he should be presenting.”
Would other medical professionals recommend this treatment? Well, another doctor who examined Belton before and after the procedure — Dr. Alexis G. Malkin — says she would hesitate doing so.
More from the Baltimore Sun:
Dr. Alexis G. Malkin, who examined Belton before and after the procedure, still would hesitate to recommend it to other patients. While Belton’s improvement has been dramatic, she said, she’s still legally blind and sees only “islands” amid blind spots.
“What was the mechanism?” said Malkin, who left Johns Hopkins’ Wilmer Eye Institute to become a clinical assistant professor at the New England College of Optometry. “It’s hard to say; we don’t know why she lost her vision in the first place.”
But she added, “Had she done nothing, would she randomly have gotten better on her own? That seems exceptionally coincidental.”
Why are the other doctors cautious about embracing the Dr. Weiss stem cell treatment for blindness? Well, its because anecdotal evidence like the Belton case is insufficient to make a claim that stem cell is a cure-all for patients with vision problems.