When I was diagnosed with Retinitis Pigmentosa seven years ago, my retinal specialist handed me a scrap of paper containing the phone number to the Center for the Blind. He told me I could forget about a cure — at least for the next 20 years. .
But recent medical breakthroughs are hopefully proving him wrong.
A news report yesterday announced that scientists from Schepens Eye Research Institute in Boston have successfully regenerated large areas of damaged retinas and have improved visual function in mice using IPS cells (induced pluripotent stem cells) derived from skin.
This is a huge breakthrough for those of us slowly going blind from Retinitis Pigementosa. It’s also a big breakthrough for people suffering from Macular Degeneration.
I’m now down to a two to three percent visual field and fight each day to hold on the precious eyesight I have left. But I’m also holding out for a cure that will one day allow me to get behind the wheel of a cherry red convertible Mustang. If researchers can develop a viable treatment for AIDS, I’m convinced they can come up with a way to restore vision.
To all of you researchers trying to cure my eye disease and every other disease out there, thank you. You give us hope. And hope is power.
In case reservations are being taken, I’m putting it out there now: When the skin cell research makes it to a human clinical trial, I want to be the first in line.