NAION and Using Stem Cell Treatment to Restore the Optic Nerve

March 10, 2010

I have non-arteritic anterior ischemic optic neuropathy (NAION) due to an ulcer that bled and dropped by hemoglobin and my blood pressure dropped. I have high cholesterol and high Triglycerides and border line to diabetes. I am legally blind. Can stem cell treatment help restore the optic nerve?




Jump down to form below to submit your own comments

31 Responses to “NAION and Using Stem Cell Treatment to Restore the Optic Nerve”

  • Debbie Jordan

    My husband suffered an optic nerve stroke after having cataract surgery. He is a severe diabetic & the other eye has a cataract plus bleeds sometimes. He has had laser surgery which has messed his peripheral vision up in the other eye. He is legally blind & stays depressed a lot of the time. He is only 56 years old & had to retire early because he can’t see to drive. If you have any studies that you know of that could help I would appreciate hearing from you…

  • ari

    you are right that risk factors need to be optimized to reduce risk of naion. But i dont think alcohol plays any role.

  • Robin Merry

    I suffered from NAION about 4 yrs. ago, first in my right eye, and a few months later in my left. I am left with very low vision in my lower visual field. My peripheral has been affected as well. Initially it was devastating, I have since learned to just live with it. I feel very blessed that I didn’t go blind. My triglycerides were over 1000 a couple of years prior to this happening, and I feel like the Doctors should do more to inform patients of risks such at NAION with such high tryglyceride levels. I feel this was the main contributor to my condition as I was only 44 yrs. old when this happened to me. I continue my life as normal, except I trip over wet floor signs, small children, dogs etc. I have to find the humor in my condition….as it was a devastating thing to have happen. Does alcohol worsen this condition…because that is part of having the humor!! LOL

  • Kal

    Hi i am a 38-years old male, i was diagnosed 8 months ago with non-arteritic anterior ischemic optic neuropathy (right eye) due to unsure risk factors such as smoking(even though i am considered as a very light smoker), thalasemia minor blood. my cholesterol level and blood pressure are normal. I need to know if stem cells help in treating the optic nerve and what are the chances of a side effect afterward and what it might be if you are a ware of. thank you

  • ari weitzner

    risk factors for naion that can be modified include high blood pressure, diabetes, obesity, sedentary lifestyle, sleep apnea among others. unfortunately, some risk factors cannot be modified, like the shape of your optic nerve.

  • ghazala zafar

    I have naion ,and my left eye is affected .it happened about two months ago.what can help protect my other eye.

  • Dr. Ari Weitzner

    stem cells will have a role in the future- the question is when. let’s hope it comes early enough to help your daughter.

  • karen harker

    hi my eldest daughter now 12 was born premature by 14 weeks and ended up with brain damage on the right side in the form of hemiplegia due to oxygen levels were to high in ventilation in hospital. by the time she was 9 months old we asked for tests to be carried out as her vision was poor. we learned that the optic nerve was under developed and she was suffering with microphthalmia.

    Can stem cell treatment in the future be used to regenarate development and restore sight as her eye is totally healthy with no signs of infection.

  • Dr. Ari Weitzner

    joyce–im sorry about your condition. i wish we had better news for you. research will help, but probably not in the near future. those stem cells you saved may indeed help- hold on to them, and lets hope!
    by the way, are you sure you are talking about aion? it sounds like naion, as aion in the second eye is preventable by treating with steroids, whereas naion is not treatable to prevent in the second eye. aion is almost unheard of in patients under 65

  • Dr. Ari Weitzner

    ashley–viral infection causing optic neuritis is quite rare. Consult with a pediatric ophthalmologist concerning your son.

    generally the only way to reduce risk of naion is to optimize your cholesterol, blood pressure, blood sugar, and to stop smoking/exercise. unfortunately, a lot has to do with genes, and genes are hard to change. Please consult further with your ophthalmologist regarding any further concerns, or seek a second opinion.

  • Jody

    If NAION occurred on the right eye, how to prevent it from happening to the left eye?

  • ashley

    I was diagnoised with optic neuropathy back in Feb. Now I was told that it was a viral infections that hit my eyes. Now I have a son should I been concerned about him receiving this disorder in the future. Or should I take a deep breath and relax that this was just something that happened to me? any infor would be very helpful.

  • ari weitzner

    the odds of going blind from cataract surgery are quite low and have nothing to do with your naion.
    cataract surgery may be a good idea if your surgeon feels it will improve your vision. if you have doubts it will improve it- your vision has been stable for many years since your naion- then get a second opinion.

  • barbara

    I have severe bilateral ischemic optic neuropathy which happened at age 55. I am now 66 and have not driven since. At age 38 I had an occlusion in the artery of my right retina also causing blindness.

    I think I have or at least the doctor thinks I have cataracts. Is it dangerous to undergo treatment for my condition? I do not want to make myself totally blind.

  • JOyce

    In February of 2005 while on a trip to Daytona, Florida, I had my left eye infected with what months later would be identified as AION. At the time of diagnosis I was told it could happen to my right eye but probably not for years. On Christmas day that same year my right eye was affected. I have huge gaps in my visual fields centrally especially in the right eye. I am able to drive and function at work with the use of glasses and larger fonts on my computer screen. It is so disheartening to hear that research will probably never show that the optic nerve can be regenerated with stem cells. My sister and son both have stem cells from the umbilical cords of their children being cryogentically kept in hopes it will be able to help me out in the future.

  • ari

    Regeneration of nerve tissue is at its infancy. Your husband’s volunteering will unlikely help him, but hopefully the next generation. I advise getting in touch with world-class eye institutions and see what studies they are conducting. (Consider bascom palmer, wills, ny eye and ear, jules stein, cleveland clinic etc.) Sorry we can’t be of more help. Good luck.

  • Crystal

    My husband has Glaucoma and he wants to volunteer for any research that is out there that will help him get back the nerve loss that he has lost due to the glaucoma. Is there any other items or medications that he can do to help his situation. Please help me help him. Thank you

  • ari

    my answer remains the same- totally experimental. results so far- practically nil. go to a reputable institution and volunteer as a guinea pig.
    do not pay out-of-pocket.
    i am sorry this happened to you. be sure to follow up with your ophthalmologist to make sure the other eye is ok.

  • Lawrence Schelero

    In November 2008 while asleep I had a stroke in my left eye leaving me blind in the left eye. My doctor said that the cells in my left eye were starved for blook and thus my blindness. I can see peripherally in the left eye images and some light but can not see if I look straight ahead. Will Adult Stem Cell treatment help me regenerate the cells so that I can see again.

  • Dr. Ari Weitzner

    again- it’s all experimental. consider allowing yourself to be a guinea pig in a study in a reputable institution. odds are it wont help you, but experience with you will help others. and you never know- you might get lucky and get benefit. but to be honest, if the naion is old, then the nerve damage is almost certainly irreversible due to atropic changes. sorry.