Lens regeneration using endogenous stem cells with gain of visual function
Regeneration of the crystalline lens
A team in China have developed a technique of generating a new transparent functional and accommodating crystalline lens following cataract removal. The technique involves removing the lens through a tiny 1.5 mm capsulorhexis and leaving lens epithelial cells on the periophery of the capsular bag intact. In a series of experiments the researchers have shown that the technique results in the regeneration of functional cells in rabbits, macaques and finally in a series of 24 eyes of 12 paediatric patients. The authors note that the capsular openings healed within one month after surgery and by three months a regenerated transparent biconvex lens structure had formed which by eight months was comparable to a native lens. Moreover the visual axis was clear in all but one patient, which is better than achieved in most series of pediatric cataract cases. In addition, the authors note that the novel treatment also shows significantly lower complication rate by almost every measurement, supporting the superiority and safety of the approach. The authors suggest that the technique may work with adult eyes as well but they speculate that lens regeneration might take longer and that phacoemulsification as currently practiced might damage LECs.