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BBC 5 June 2007Mr Lyndon Da Cruz, consultant ophthalmic surgeon at Moorfields Eye Hospital in London has carried out an operation in a handful of patients to take cells from the healthy periphery of the eye in patients with wet AMD and transplant them into the affected area. The procedures have been successful but are associated with complications, take more than two hours and require two operations. To make the procedure quicker, easier and more widely available, researchers at the University of Sheffield have grown RPE cells from embryonic stem cell lines. The hope is that this can be processed into a layer that can be injected into the patient's eye during a simple 45-minute operation. Tests of the laboratory grown RPE cells in rats with AMD showed they restored vision.
Treatment for glaucoma aims to lower the internal pressure of the eye and prevent any loss of vision, or any further deterioration in vision. Options include medicine given as eye drops, laser treatment and surgery. Treatment can't reverse any existing optic nerve damage, so it won't improve your sight if it has already deteriorated.MedicinesThere are several different types of medicine available for treating glaucoma. They help lower the internal pressure of the eye by increasing the flow of fluid out through the trabecular meshwork, or by reducing production of fluid. Your doctor may prescribe a beta-blocker (such as timolol).Several other types of medicines are available in drop and tablet form, as alternatives or in addition to beta-blockers. It's important that you use any prescribed eye drops everyday as advised by your doctor. If you don't, the pressure in the eye will rise again. There are combination eye drops available that may be more convenient if you need to use two different medicines.There are different side-effects for each type of eye drop. All the eye drops can cause some irritation to the eyes. In addition, beta-blockers can cause itching and dry eyes. Side-effects of other types of medicine may include taste disturbance, darkening of the iris, thickening and lengthening of eye lashes, headaches and blurred vision. Ask your doctor for more information about these medicines.Laser treatmentA laser can be used to open the holes in the trabecular meshwork. The procedure is usually quick and causes little discomfort. You won't need a general anaesthetic and you will be able to go home the same day. The success of this type of treatment varies from person to person, and you may need to continue using eye drops after laser treatment.Surgery (trabeculectomy)The effectiveness of newer medications for glaucoma has reduced the need for surgery. However, surgery is an option if medicines and/or laser treatment have failed to lower the pressure in your eye.The operation is straightforward and involves creating a tiny opening in the eye wall, which allows fluid to escape into the loose tissue under the conjunctiva (the clear membrane that covers the white of the eye). From there the fluid is absorbed back into the bloodstream. Further informationIGA (International Glaucoma Association)01233 64 81 70www.iga.org.uk