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Eye Diseases and Stem Cells

Vision loss can result from common eye diseases and continue to be a major disability due to its dramatic effect on the quality of life of patients. Injuries to the retina lead to visual impairment in age-related macular degeneration and diabetic retinopathy, while injuries to the optic nerve cause loss of vision in glaucoma. Other injuries to the cornea can also cause scarring and subsequent blindness. Current therapies are limited at halting or minimizing disease progression while cure and restoration of vision remain a challenge for many common eye diseases. Stem cell-based therapy is a promising treatment to restore vision in patients with retinal diseases or ocular surface injury. Transplantation of stem cells from various sources including embryonic stem cells, induced pluripotent stem cells, retinal progenitor cells, and limbal stem cells has been used in repairing and replacing nonfunctioning cells. Stem cell-based therapy will continue to be an exciting field of research, and its potential for clinical therapy has just begun to unravel.

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