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Surv Ophthalmol. 2015 Mar-Apr;60(2):93-105. doi: 10.1016/j.survophthal.2014.07.001. Epub 2014 Jul 16.

Stem cell therapy for glaucoma: science or snake oil?

Author information

  • 1Wills Eye Hospital, Glaucoma Research Center, Philadelphia, PA, USA. Electronic address:
  • 2Wills Eye Hospital, Glaucoma Research Center, Philadelphia, PA, USA.
  • 3Farber Institute for Neurosciences, Thomas Jefferson University, Philadelphia, PA, USA.


In recent years there has been substantial progress in developing stem cell treatments for glaucoma. As a downstream approach that targets the underlying susceptibility of retinal ganglion and trabecular meshwork cells, stem cell therapy has the potential to both replace lost, and protect damaged, cells by secreting neurotrophic factors. A variety of sources, including embryonic cells, adult cells derived from the central nervous system, and induced pluripotent stem cells show promise as therapeutic approaches. Even though safety concerns and ethical controversies have limited clinical implementation, some institutions have already commercialized stem cell therapy and are using direct-to-consumer advertising to attract patients with glaucoma. We review the progress of stem cell therapy and its current commercial availability.

Copyright © 2015 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.


glaucoma; neuroprotection; retinal ganglion cell; stem cell; trabecular meshwork

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