The Blind of India have something new to focus on – stem cells & bionics


Goan doc transplants retinal stem cells & pioneers bionic eye – 23 Feb 2009, 0423 hrs IST, Joaquim Fernandes , TNN

PANAJI: A UK based opthalmologist of Goan origin, Dr Lyndon da Cruz, the 44-year-old University of Australia graduate told TOI he was…transplanting stem cell-derived retinal cells for restoring sight to blind patients.

…transplanting stem cell-derived retinal pigment epithelium cells into patients suffering from age-related macular degeneration (AMD). Da Cruz said, “We have succeeded in turning stem cells into retinal pigment epithelium cells. These are presently being tested in animals to see if they are safe and stable to be implanted into humans who have lost those cells due to diseases.”

(He) is credited with conducting the first three successful operations to implant artificial electronic retinal devices in the eyes of the blind. The device is called a bionic eye.

Da Cruz is chief investigator and surgeon for bionic eye implants in London. There are a total of 18 bionic eye implants all over the world, including 12 in the USA and Mexico and six in Europe. Da Cruz has done all three bionic eye operations in Britain.

Says da Cruz, “Since these patients were totally blind, after the operation they don’t see like you and I do. But they receive light to see where objects are, so they can navigate without the need of a stick or guide dog.

Da Cruz explains that bionic eyes are a pair of video glasses to capture objects that wirelessly transmit the signal to the device implanted in the eye. The device stimulates the residual retina to generate a signal which the optic nerve carries to the brain.

“The trials will continue for three years. If doctors can prove that patients benefit from the bionic eye, the device will become widely available,” says da Cruz.

Da Cruz, who was born in Mombassa, Kenya, migrated with his family to Australia where he studied medicine, obtained eye surgery training and eventually a doctorate in gene therapy. In the UK, he trained further in retinal surgery.

via Goan doc pioneers bionic eye-Goa-Cities-The Times of India.

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