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  1. ITV Report

Patients regain sight after groundbreaking trial

An 86-year-old man who received groundbreaking stem cell treatment for macular degeneration says he feels "so lucky" to have his sight back.

Douglas Waters, 86, and a woman in her early 60s who has chosen not to be named, took part in a clinical study using genetically engineered tissue implanted into the eye.

Age-related macular degeneration is the most common form of sight loss in the UK and leads to rapid loss of central vision.

Both patients successfully regained their reading vision from barely being able to read at all.

In the months before the operation my sight was really poor and I couldn't see anything out of my right eye. I was struggling to see things clearly, even when up-close. After the surgery my eyesight improved to the point where I can now read the newspaper and help my wife out with the gardening. It's brilliant what the team have done and I feel so lucky to have been given my sight back.

– Douglas Waters

It is the first time an engineered piece of tissue has been successfully used to treat people with sudden severe sight loss.

The study into AMD - a condition which affects more than 600,000 people in the UK - is a major milestone for the London Project to Cure Blindness.

Researchers believe it could lead to an off-the-shelf treatment within five years.

The results suggest that this new therapeutic approach is safe and provides good visual outcomes.

The patients who received the treatment had very severe AMD, and their improved vision will go some way to enhance their quality of life.

We recognise that this is a small group of patients, but we hope that what we have learned from this study will benefit many more in the future.

– Professor Lyndon da Cruz, consultant ophthalmologist at Moorfields Eye Hospital NHS Foundation Trust