Macular Degeneration, or Science of Yellow Spots
Because life – if it really is life and not a Hollywood scheme – is full of surprises, you never know what you’ll get with your health. As one friend of mine says, “I never thought that I’d have that «literary disease» with the funny name!” I’m not going to tell you what he has, but the word has four letters, ends with a T, and used to be considered the disease of kings, although now it plagues those not-so-prosperous. Either way, it can call for a really monotonous diet.
Macular degeneration has to do with the loss of central vision, and is in the top four causes of blindness. It’s usually seen among the elderly. I hope that you never experience it, but if you reach a ripe old age you’ll have to think about it – there’s a light at the end of the tunnel, though!
Recently, a group of American ophthalmologists saved four patients from blindness with a new method that’s described in the Journal of Translational Medicine. In preliminary studies with animals, it was discovered that it’s possible to stop the process, and even restore vision, by transplanting the pigment layer of the epithelium. Problems with this layer cause blindness – photoreceptors die and vision is blurry, kind of like Monet’s paintings but not as beautiful. It’s hard to recognize faces or read, and it ends with no vision left at all.
The implant, as already stated, was in the cellular layer of the pigment epithelium. And where do they get it? From embryonic stem cells. Five people participated in the experiment, and four of them received the implant, which they observed throughout a year. In all four, the implant took hold and the epithelium was restored – new photoreceptors even began to grow!