The healing of corneal wounds is a complex process. Delayed or incomplete healing of the cornea is a cause for concern. Now, a new study has shown that stem cells could prove helpful in people with complicated corneal wound healing.
Corneal Wounds: An Overview
The cornea is the outermost layer of the eye and is made up of multiple layers. In addition to preventing infections and maintaining the structural integrity of the eye, it is also critical for vision due to its ability to refract light. The complex structure of the cornea and its location make this layer of the eye especially susceptible to injuries. Quick and complete repair of the cornea is necessary following an injury to preserve the structure of the eye and avoid disruption of vision.
Corneal wound healing involves a number of different cells and a complex sequence of steps. Traditional treatments are directed at pain relief, infection control, and expediting of the healing process. Treatment modalities typically consist of antibiotics, steroids, and serum eye drops. Delayed corneal wound healing is concerning for clinicians because of the important role of this layer in vision and eye function.
Stem Cell Treatment for Corneal Wounds
The three layers of the cornea – the surface epithelium, the stroma, and the inner endothelium – all heal differently, making the process of corneal wound healing a complex one. At the Cedars Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles, researchers have found that corneal stem cells can aid the healing process in people with corneal injuries. Stem cell treatments are helpful for all types of corneal injuries, including abrasions, burns, infections, and problems related to contact lenses and/or inadequate tear production.
Study Results for Corneal Wound Healing
The results of the study, published in the journal Stem Cells, show that stem cells are critical to the healing of all three layers of the cornea and for all types of wounds due to injury, disease, and post-surgery.
The researchers found that transplanted corneal epithelial, stromal, and endothelial stem cells were effective in healing burn wounds to the cornea. The availability of an increased range of cell sources and improvement in transplant techniques have made stem cell therapy for corneal wounds a very real possibility in the near future. This is a reassuring discovery for individuals with complicated corneal wounds because stem cells may help to expedite the healing and preserve vision.