MIAMI, Fla. (Ivanhoe Newswire) — It’s estimated that nearly 1.3 Americans are legally blind. Now a doctor in Florida is helping people who have no other treatment options regain some vision using a unique procedure, using stem cells and patients are saying seeing is believing.
Alison Milianta lost her vision due to a brain tumor a few years ago.
“You panic, it’s almost like you’re in an earthquake, it’s like everything is closing in on you,” Milianta said.
That’s when she found retinal specialist Jeffrey Weiss, MD.
“I will not accept that somebody is blind and that’s it. In 2010, I did the first ocular retinal stem cell surgery in Düsseldorf, Germany,” said Dr. Weiss. (Read Full Interview)
Since then, Dr. Weiss says his procedure is now FDA compliant in the United States. Dr. Weiss uses stem cells from the patient’s own bone marrow.
He explained, “These are your stem cells, you do not need to be immunosuppressed.”
Then he injects the stem cells around each eye, letting the growth factors go to work.
Dr. Weiss continued, “Once the cells are there they may stimulate the remaining cells that are already present to start functioning again.”
He says it typically takes four to six months for patients to see improvement. Alicia Johnson lost her vision at age nine and traveled to Florida from Tennessee for her first procedure in 2016.
Johnson said, “The blind spot is not as big as it was, I’m not tripping over things.”
She’s back for a second procedure with the hope of someday driving again.
“I went out and bought a little Volkswagen which I’ve always wanted, convertible,” Johnson laughed.
Giving hope to those living in the dark.
Dr. Weiss treats many conditions that cause blindness and reviews a patient’s records for free, although the procedure is not covered by insurance and costs just under $20,000. Dr. Weiss’ stem cell procedure is registered with the National Institutes of Health. For more information please visit: www.clinicaltrials.gov
Contributors to this news report include: Janna Ross, Field Producer; Judy Reich, Videographer; Cyndy McGrath, Supervising Producer; Hayley Hudson, Assistant Producer; Robert Walko, Editor.
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TOPIC: SEEING IS BELIEVING: STEM CELL THERAPY
REPORT: MB #4405
BACKGROUND: There are many reasons an individual can lose their sight. Some of these conditions are glaucoma, macular degeneration, cataracts, Optic neuritis, Retinitis pigmentosa or tumors that affect your retina or optic nerve. Blindness is a potential complication if you have diabetes or have a stroke. Birth defects, eye injuries, and complications from eye surgery are other common causes of blindness. People who are at an elevated risk are people with eye diseases, people with diabetes, people who have had a stroke, eye surgery patients, people who work with or near sharp objects or toxic chemicals, and premature babies.
DIAGNOSING AND TREATMENT: Blindness is strictly defined as the state of being totally sightless in both eyes. A completely blind individual is unable to see at all. The word blindness, however, is commonly used as a relative term to signify visual impairment, or low vision, meaning that even with eyeglasses, contact lenses, medicine or surgery, a person does not see well. Vision impairment can range from mild to severe. Blindness is diagnosed by testing each eye individually and by measuring the visual acuity and the visual field, or peripheral vision. The treatment of visual impairment or blindness depends on the cause. Inflammatory and infectious causes of blindness can be treated with medication in the form of drops or pills. Corneal transplantation may help people whose vision is absent as a result of corneal scarring.
NEW TECHNOLOGY: A new approach is using stem cells for vision loss. Dr. Jeffrey N. Weiss, a physician, retinal specialist and electrical engineer said he did first ocular retinal stem cell surgery in Germany in 2010. Now it is FDA compliant in the United States. “We’ve done about 47 different conditions and many of the conditions are mixed. We have a recently published paper for Non Arteritic Ischemic Optic Neuropathy, where more than 80 percent of people gained vision. We have a paper we just submitted for Retinitis Pigmentosa with approximately 45 percent of the patients gaining seven or more lines of vision. Weiss and his team take a patient’s own stem cells, so they do not have to be immunosuppressed, and inject it around the eye. Fifteen to 20 percent see some improvement on the first day, but typically it’s four to six months for the patients to see improvement.
(Source: Dr. Jeffrey N. Weiss)
FOR MORE INFORMATION ON THIS REPORT, PLEASE CONTACT:
Jeffrey Weiss, MD
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