Can Stem Cell Treatment Help a Patient With Retinal Detachment and Glaucoma?

May 4, 2010

My husband,  now age 33,  suffered a retinal detachment in his right eye 3 yrs ago. At the same time, he was diagnosed with glaucoma in his left eye. The eye with glaucoma is left with only center vision. The right eye was treated with vitrectomy. Only 60% of vision was regained after the treatment. It was GRT, 80% – 90% tear in right eye.  Can stem cell transplant be of any help? I know the treatment and research is in its infancy, but is there any hope?




Jump down to form below to submit your own comments

23 Responses to “Can Stem Cell Treatment Help a Patient With Retinal Detachment and Glaucoma?”

  • Anthony

    they have tried the stem cells in rats, mice ect, that have retina diseases. & it has worked in these animals. so why wont it work on people that have AMD? I’ve seen many tube videos and read many articles on how successful the adult stem cell treatment worked. Dr. Robert Lanza has performed on many animals & it was a success. So why wouldn’t it work on people???

  • ari

    nothing can be done to help the eye. if you are 100% blind (meaning, no light perception) that means your retina and/or optic nerve are 100% damaged and this cannot be undone. i am sorry.

  • ryan

    i have a retinal detachment in my left eye, im 100% blind in that eye. im 17 years old right now and have been blind in that eye for 10 years. i suffered a car accident when i was 6. i’ve been begging my parents to get me surgery for my eye and that i want to be normal again. they keep sayin ” what if it dont work’ all i need is a treatment that will work.

  • Jim

    I heard that x-cell is only able to use certain types of cells and certain applications due to restrictions with German law. Stem Cell Treatment Institute has many other options. See

  • ari

    please refer to the stem cell section –

    there is no proof that these stem cell treatments work. it is experimental, and to my knowledge, xcell has not conducted any study that was accepted by a peer-reviewed legitimate journal. my advice is to enroll in a study conducted by a world-class eye hospital. you run the very real risk of spending a lot of money for nothing.

  • ari weitzner

    Please review our entries in the “Stem Cell” category for further information:

    In particular, see our post concerning a new website that helps patients evaluate stem cell treatment centers:

    i know there is a lot of controversy about this, but i have to beg you please not spend this kind of money on an utterly unproven treatment which scientifically makes no sense- how can stem cells migrate from the retrobulbar space into the retina?? before taking this kind of money from an unsuspecting public, the xcell company has an obligation to publish their data in a peer-reviewed reputable journal. and the data has to be from a rigorous scientific study- randomized, double-blind, placebo controlled.

  • Steve

    Hi, I’m Steve 32 years old and have RP (Retinitis Pigmentosa) as does my mother 59. We are considering the Stem cell treatment at the Xcell center Germany. They offer the retrobullbar treatment for circa 15000 euros or sub-retinal treatment directly into the affected area for 25000 euros. This treatment is very expensive but will it offer us any benefits? Has anyone under-gone this treatment? My mother is nearly blind in one eye now and is pinning a lot of hope and dreams on the stem cell treatment which is not going to be easy to finance…

  • ari weitzner

    Please review our entries in the “Stem Cell” category for further information:


    I go a retinal detachment after an attack about two months ago. After three surgeries, my doctor was able to attach only half of it as the other bottom half curled with blood and unfortunately unable to repair. I read so many articles about the wonder of implantation of stem cell directly into the eye and a reasonable expectation of retina cell regrowth and regain vision.

    I wonder why so much political wrangling when so many people are hurt and the only hope is a hand reach away.

    I am even willing to go to Europe to get that promised treatment ; however, I have some hesitation as it is expensive and what about the seriousness of these companies.

    I am in contact with XCell Center in Germany – is this company legitimate?

  • Diane Schwartz

    1) Glaucoma Symptoms Halted with Eye Drops, Study at University of Rome campus Bio-Medico and Albeto Sordi Foundation with Findings published online in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, PNAS, Dr. Stefamo Bonini:

    Cut and Paste address below:

    Another alternative underway using nerve growth factor (NGF) where three (3) patients with advance glaucoma were also treated along with preliminary study with rats.

    “After initial baseline tests, three patients with advanced glaucoma were then treated with NGF eye drops for three months, after which they stopped the eye drops but were still kept under observation for another three months. The results showed that the patients experienced improvements in visual fields, optic nerve function, contrast sensitivity and visual acuity.”

    Comments and are you able to obtain more information on this study and timeline?

    2) Cut and Paste:
    Stem Cells Used to Heal the Blind, June 24, 2010:

    In this study, it was not used on glaucoma patients; however, I would like to know if the same process was used with trabecular meshwork instead of using the cells around the limbus would it possibly work?

    “The Cells were taken form the limbus, the rim around the cornea, the clear window that covers the colored part of the eye. In a normal eye, stem cells in the limbus are like factories, churning out new cells to replace dead corneal cells, When an injury kills off the stem cells, scar tissue forms over the cornea, clouding vision and causing lindness.

    In the Italian study, the doctors removed scar tissue over the cornea and glued the laboratory-grown stem cells (adult) over the injured eye. in cases where both eyes were damaged by burns, cells were taken from an unaffected part of the limbus.

    Researchers followed the patients for an average of three years and some as long as a decade. More than three-quarters regained sight after the transplant. An additional 13 percent were considered a partial success.

    Researchers in the United States have been testing a different way to use self supplied stem cells but that work is preliminary. Schwab of UC Davis said stem cell transplants would not help those blinded by burns in both eyes because doctors need stem cells to do the procedure.

    DR. Sophie Deng, A cornea Expert at UCLA Jules Stein Eye Institute said the biggest advantage was that the Italian doctors were able to expand the number of stem cells in the lab. This technique is less invasive than taking a large tissue sample from the eye and lowers the chance of eye injury.”

    I am curious if this process can be theoretically used with damaged meshwork? I would be interested in knowing whether animals were used first in this study. Are you able to obtain more detail of this work?

    entitled “UCF (University of Central Florida) Research Finds Nanoparticles Prevent Cell Damage” Dr. Sudipta Seal, drug called “Nanoceria” it is my understanding that two patents have been approved however am not sure FDA has approved the drug. Can you find out?

  • Dr. Ari Weitzner

    it is well known that pressure is only part of the glaucoma surgery. many patients have low pressure or normal pressure and get glaucoma. unfortunately, we are only able to affect the pressure- the other factors (inflammation? vascular?) we cannot do anything about. but for sure, pressure is part of the problem and must be as low as possible. injecting stem cells in the retrobulbar space makes more sense for glaucoma than macular degeneration- at least the stem cells can invade the optic nerve there. but i have zero confidence in a company that has no animal studies, no peer-reviewed literature, and injects stem cells in the retrobulbar space for macular degeneration. it makes absolutely no medical sense.

  • Diane

    Thank you for your input but in my case pressure been controlled and reduced 1/3 from 18 to below 11 and last visit to 9 yet my OCT membrane thickness has decrease in one eye 20% (Average thickness decrease 15 pts or from 65.64 to 50.08) in four years. I am a young architect of 55 years old and want to see my grandchildren and continue my work. I reduced pressure and the membrane is still thinning; therefore, I conclude pressure is not the answer. Personnally, I asked the same question in layman terms to the US representative Dr Steve Levy and he stated they really do not know how the stems cells know what to reproduced as.

    My condition could be related to circulation or something else, I hope the stem cells know where to go. Having trabectomy or having a cut into my eye seems to have more risks and isn’t true last maybe seven years?

  • Dr. Ari Weitzner

    i took a look at the xcell website. they charge about $15,000 for injection of stem cells for macular degeneration. the whole thing is outrageous- they inject the stem cells in the retrobulbar space. for crying out loud- how in the world are these stem cells supposed to get to the choriocapillaris, the rpe or the retina if the stem cells are in the retrobulbar space? man- have they even bothered to do any animal studies first, to at least prove that these injected stem cells can migrate from the retrobulbar space to the retina? that would be nice, no, before injecting humans? and why don’t they publish before and after photos of the macula (not that i would believe the photos- too easy to “doctor”). this is a money-making enterprise.

    i hope to god that no patient suffers financial hardship from this “treatment”, and only those patients with disposable income and who favor income redistribution are paying these guys.

    one day stem cells will be of great value. but it will happen only when reputable institutions using strict scientific standards publish their data.

  • Diane

    This was written in 2004:

    Cambridge Ophthalmological Symposium

    Eye (2004) 18, 1085–1088. doi:10.1038/sj.eye.6701577
    Stem cells to replace the optic nerve

    Supported in part by PHS Research Grant 02120 from the National Eye Institute, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, MD, USA, and by the Wagner Charitable Trust, New York, NY, USA.

    H A Quigley1 and D S Iglesia1

    1Glaucoma Service and the Dana Center for Preventive Ophthalmology, Wilmer Ophthalmological Institute, Johns Hopkins University, School of Medicine, Baltimore MD, USA

    Correspondence: HA Quigley, Glaucoma Service and the Dana Center for Preventive Ophthalmology, The Johns Hopkins University, 720 Rutland Avenue, Baltimore, MD 21205, USA

    Received 4 September 2003; Revised 4 September 2003; Accepted 4 September 2003.

    Top of page
    Methods that exist now and that might be developed are suggested to replace retinal ganglion cells and their axons in the optic nerve, ultimately to re-establish functional vision in eyes blind from glaucoma.

    Keywords: glaucoma, retinal ganglion cells, stem cells, regeneration

  • Diane

    Though this does not work with the optic nerve yet, it is just amazing and hopeful to others.

  • Diane

    Good link to other articles: (FYI -scroll down in the article)

    The US major universities are in a catch up game using joint ventures with other countries; hopefully, London, Austrialia, etc., Fortunately, millions of grants have been allocated from our current administration to our universities across the US. Now we have to collaborate with our pharmaceutical companies.

  • Diane

    Additional information for your use on XCell Center which uses your own adult stem cells for treatment of glaucoma:

  • Diane Schwartz

    I will be making the decision this month to undergo a procedure at X-cell in Germany for treatment using my adult stem cells for either improving my vision or prolonging or slowing further vision lose as a result of NTG glaucoma. You can say, I am volunteering to see what else is available….I think “charlatans” is a harsh term since in my investigation of research being performed outside the US there are positive results. Israel, London, Australia, China seem to much more ahead of us in their research using adult stem cells especially for AMD.

    It my understanding that our pharmaceutical companies want to patent these treatments just as they have done in patenting a procedure or the gene for breast cancer and its in only one laboratory in the US. This was discussed on 60 minutes of how a company can own the rights over a gene in our bodies. It is being challenged in the courts however this woman could not get another lab to test whether they came up with finding that same gene which predisposes her to breast cancer. Another issue…

    Treating macular degeneration is further ahead and is less complex as glaucoma; however, I view this treatment similar to using drops to lower my pressure even though lowering my pressure still doesn’t guarantee that I will not continue to lose sight. I a happy to have drops to lower my pressure however there is no guarantee that I will not continue to lose sight so why not try???

    There has been no down side with this procedure expect nothing changing and on a positive note they will keep my stem cells frozen for ten years in case I want to try it again. At least I have some young cells to use. Are you familiar with X-cell in Germany? I welcome the opportunity to have another option to try to prolong the progression of visual lose.

    There is a website in the US which recommends treatment centers outside the US after they investigate the facility, procedure, etc…China has made the the cure for glaucoma a national objective by use of stem cells. I cannot say that is the case here. Personally, I am glad to hear you have received many questions about stem cells and a cure since the last administration the US lost its edge in this research as a result of adult and embryonic stem cells being co-mingled. It is also my understanding with embryonic stem cells that Universities are using them only between day 2 through day 5 of gestation.

    If I can find so much research being done in other countries regarding this ….that are done according to our research standards then why not help us and provide research papers to justify your positions and give us hope and knowledge?

    I will report in after I have the procedure done with the results.


  • I will agree with Dr. Weitzner. There is no evidence that stem cell treatment is even a remote solution. In theory, it sounds great, but there are so many obstacles remaining.

    I have a 3-part article reviewing stem cells and retinal disease ( that may be helpful in defining the issues that need to be resolved before stems cell treatment becomes viable.


  • ari weitzner

    it’s remarkable how so many questions are posed here regarding stem cell.
    there is zero evidence it works. but please volunteer in a study in a reputable institution. so many charlatans are taking thousands$$$ from desperate patients, esp. abroad.