Can Stem Cells Be Used to Treat Diabetic Retinopathy?

October 18, 2009

I have had uncontrolled diabetes 2 for 18 years because no medication in 2 countries has been able to lower my glucose level without dire consequences. I am currently on a diet program that is lowering my glucose to normal.  However, I have nonproliferative retinopathy and cataracts that have worsened my vision to the point I can no longer drive a vehicle. I am an American  citizen doing work in Europe. As a musician, I worry about eventually losing my career. Do you know of anyone who can help restore my vision through stem cell treatment? I also have some neuropathy in my hands and feet. Thank you for any information you can provide.




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10 Responses to “Can Stem Cells Be Used to Treat Diabetic Retinopathy?”

  • ari

    the stem cell treatment in china has zero evidence that it works, and was recently denounced in an editorial in the ophthalmology literature as a cruel way of giving false hope and taking people’s money. as i have said many times, if you want to try stem cells, please go to a world-class eye institution and see if you can volunteer for one of their trials. good luck.

  • Clare

    I am 29years old and suffered with type1 Diabetes from the age of 8.
    My Diabetes was badly controlled due to no adult support as a child and by the time I understood the Diabetes it was too late.

    In September 2006 I had gone into severe renal failure with a Creatine level of 1200, after the hospital had fit a tempory line in my groin to use for Dialysis, after a couple of days my vision became blurred. By January 2007 I was blind in my left eye and had hardly any vision in the right eye. I then went to Moorefields eye Hospital in London and saw an amazing consultant who saved 50% vision in the right eye.

    Towards the end of 2007 I received a combined Kidney and Pancreas Transplant for which I no longer need treatment for the Diabetes. The Kidney unfortunatly rejected Feb 2010 but I am now waiting for another Kidney.

    The Pancreas Transplant has changed my life, not having that Diabetic feeling that I used to wake up to. I used to say about Diabetes “How can I control something when I don’t understand it”.

    I would give anything to get my sight back so if anyone has any information regarding stem cell treatment in China I would appreciate your feedback.

    If you would like to ask me anything then please do.

    Kind regards

  • Dr. Ari Weitzner

    no. i wish there were. all we have is laser and anti-vegf/steroid injections, and vitrectomy. no proof that stem cells are of any value. not being performed by any reputable center, and nothing published in any reputable journal. sorry.

  • Ramkumar


    I would like to know if there is any treatment for Diabetic Retinopathy through Stem Cell treatment. My father is suffering from Diabetic Retinopathy and desperately needs a treatment that can help regain his vision back. He’s able to see only very minimally at this point.

    Looking forward for a positive response. Thanks.


  • Hame

    Hi Aruna
    I am 52 years old and had diabetes since 25 years ago. I take insulin and tablets to control my blood sugar. It has been a rocky process controlling my blood sugar. Recently, my HBA1c was 8.2. Now, I have diabatic retinopathy and had laser treatment and AVASTIN injections in both eyes.

    In your comment, you mention that you overcome neuropathy having a 1 hr x 35 days course in non-invasive EECP. Please could you give me more clarification about this. I have pain when I walk.

    Also, do you have more information about the stemcell therapy in Germany (name of institution, cost, sucess rate, ). I am considering going for this therapy.

    I would appreciate if you could send me your e-mail address.
    All the very best wishes,

    M. Hame

  • Dear Fellow Diabetic:

    I am a 56 yr old female, diagnosed with diabetes in 1986. Chain of events in my childhood indicates that I may have developed diabetes since 1964.
    I have cataract but is very stable which may not need surgery for few more years. I take 3 capsules of Fish oil per day. I use spectacles only for reading.
    I am started on Insulin in 2006, which I wish to stop ASAP.

    Having done extensive research on the benefits of stemcell therapy, recently I consulted my endocrinologist, cardiologist, and ophthalmologist, to get their consent or opinion. They have encouraged me to do so.
    I plan to undergo stemcell therapy in China or Germany in June 2010 as a multi-pronged approach to stop the intake of Insulin, reduce progression of macular and cardiac vascular degeneration.
    As for neuropathy, I have overcome that by having a 1 hr x 35 days course in non-invasive EECP [Enhanced External Control Pulsation] in 2008 after I had to undergo Angioplasty in 2007.
    Before EECP, I could not walk without pain for more than 10 minutes. Now I am able to exercise, run with my dogs etc.

    As a moral duty to a fellow human being suffering complications from diabetes, I am willing to share my experience with you.

    Aruna Th-Hollingshead
    Calgary, Canada

  • I am wondering how much of the vision loss is actually due to cataracts versus diabetic retinopathy? If there is not much retinopathy, I would suggest considering the possibility of cataract surgery.

    You mentioned that you have non-proliferative diabetic retinopathy. Do you have or have you every had macular edema? Laser?

    Looking forward to hearing from you. I don’t think stem cells are viable at point in time anyway. I would also ask you to look at an article I wrote the other week;

    I hope to back from you,

    Randall V. Wong, M.D.
    Retina Specialist

  • Dear uncontrolled diabetes [type 2] for 18 years –

    Have you not seen an ophthalmologist regarding your retinopathy (and cataracts)? At the very least it sounds as if you need a consult *and likely surgical repair of cataracts).

    The retinopathy is something that should have been addressed immediately, as left untreated it basically only gets worse (there are some physical procedures available but long term retinopathy generally results in blindness).

    I’m sorry for not being able to give you positive feedback re stem cells, but currently this is just something to hope for in the future.

    See a doctor and take care of yourself.

    Best wishes from Calgary