Stem cell therapy for glaucoma: Science or snake oil?

Yi Sun*, Alice Williams, Michael Waisbourd, Lorraine Iacovitti, L. Jay Katz

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

30 Scopus citations


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.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)93-105
Number of pages13
JournalSurvey of Ophthalmology
Issue number2
StatePublished - 1 Mar 2015
Externally publishedYes


  • Glaucoma
  • Neuroprotection
  • Retinal ganglion cell
  • Stem cell
  • Trabecular meshwork


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