Researchers from Linköping University have developed an implant that has helped to restore vision in twenty patients who were previously blind. This incredible feat has sparked excitement among the team, who hope that their creation can eventually be used on patients all around the world.
To create the implant, the researchers use collagen protein from pigs skin to make up a 'human cornea'. This is advantageous over current methods, such as using donated corneal tissue. The donated tissues are often in shortage, meaning that there isn't enough supply to treat demand efficiently. With the pig skin protein, this wouldn't be an issue, and in fact, it could even be scaled for mass production.
Once the researchers developed the collagen protein implants, they successfully implanted them into the patients eyes. The results were impressive, and have sparked hope among the team. Each of the twenty patients found that their vision has been fully restored thanks to the implants, curing their blindness. The researchers also found that the thickness and curvature of the patients cornea returned to normal.
This success could eventually pave the way for the implant to revolutionize blindness treatments. Not only could the implant be mass produced (solving current shortage issues of current treatments), it could also open up access to treatments for other eye diseases. The implants can also be stored for up to two years. These benefits will allow for the implant to be accessed by those who need it most, such as those who live in parts of the world where current treatments are in short supply.
However, this isn't the only recent treatments for blindness that has been developed in recent years. In 2021, researchers also found that gene therapy injections could drastically improve vision in those suffering with LHON, the most common cause of mitochondrial blindness.