Ocular Stem Cells to Treat Retinal and Corneal Disorders

Biswa P. Chatterji1, *, Godiwala Mehvash2, Sunder Roma2
1 School of Engineering, Ajeenkya DY Patil University, Pune, India
2 Department of Biotechnology, St.Xavier's College, Mumbai, India

© 2018 Chatterji et al.

open-access license: This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International Public License (CC-BY 4.0), a copy of which is available at: This license permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.

* Address correspondence to this author at the School of Engineering, Ajeenkya DY Patil University, Pune, India; Tel: +91-9920010371; E-mail:



According to WHO, 285 million people are visually impaired out of which, 39 million are classified as blind and the remaining 246 million people have low vision which comprises of moderate vision impairment and severe vision impairment. Therapies to treat major disorders leading to visual impairment like Age-related Macular Degeneration (AMD), Stargardt’s Disease (STGD), Retinitis Pigmentosa (RP) and corneal scarring are required.

In the last decade, many advances have been made to treat these disorders using stem cell therapy. For corneal damage by accidental burns, scarring or limbal stem cell deficiencies which can lead to partial or total blindness, are treated with a risky intervention like keratoplasty. To overcome issues like graft rejection caused by keratoplasty as well as have a better outcome, limbal stem cell therapy has been introduced. Similarly, Retinal Pigment Epithelium (RPE) is a supporting tissue essential in nutrient transport, production of growth factors, phagocytosis of the photoreceptors and retinol cycling.

Discussion and Conlusion:

Degeneration of this monolayer causes many diseases that have no prevailing treatment; however, research is being carried out to replace this simple epithelial monolayer primarily with an autologous source of cells and currently using stem cells. This review discusses the advances made in the field of ocular stem cell therapy with regards to development, cultivation and novel methods used to deliver these cells to replace the corneal and retinal epithelium as a new standard for treatment.

Keywords: Cornea, Retina, Retinal pigment epithelium, Corneal stem cells, Retinal stem cells, Limbal stem cells, Keratoplasty, Stem cell therapy.