Researchers, led by Dr. Markus Kuehn of the University of Iowa, are developing a regenerative procedure utilizing stem cells to restore proper drainage for fluid-congested eyes at risk for glaucoma. The injection of stem cells into the eyes of mice with glaucoma led to the proliferation of cells within the trabecular meshwork, a patch of tissue in the eye that serves as a drain for the eyes to avoid fluid buildup.
Researchers at the University College London have recently used stem cells to heal the damage caused by glaucoma. Adult stem cells were differentiated into new retinal ganglion cells, replacing those that die as a result of high internal eye pressure caused by glaucoma. The newly formed retinal ganglion cells were then injected directly into the inner eye, and were found to have connected with existing nerve cells within four weeks, thus restoring visual capabilities. Other research teams are utilizing stem cells to treat age-related macular degeneration, the most common form of blindness in the elderly and the first clinical trials are already underway.