0826 GMT September 16, 2019
Iranian scientists have also completed research on the use of stems cells for treating retinal damage. Nowadays, they hope that patients suffering from retinal damage will be able to receive due stem cell treatment in the next six months.
In an exclusive interview with Iran Daily, Dr. Mahmoud Jabbarvand, a senior ophthalmologist and director of Farabi Eye Hospital, expounded on Iran’s major achievements in treating eye diseases.
Excerpts of the interview follow:
IRAN DAILY: What’s the most common eye disease in Iran?
MAHMOUD JABBARVAND: On aggregate, between 40 to 50 percent of eye diseases pertain to cataract. This sort of eye disease is followed by retina damage caused by diabetes or other ailments. Glaucoma, diseases pertaining to eyelid, strabismus, eye sockets and lacrimal canals are also prevalent.
A large number of patients — who suffer from eye diseases — have sustained injuries in accidents, or as a result of being struck by sharp objects.
Please, expound on Iran’s achievements in treating eye diseases and the country’s global status in this respect.
Iran is among the few countries that have managed to make use of modern technology and science at high levels to treat eye diseases. Treating corneal and retinal damages using stem cells are among the country’s major achievements. Likewise, we have managed to invent equipment which can help treat keratoconus. Furthermore, we have managed to produce synthetic cornea to restore vision to patients suffering from severe corneal disorders and damaged eye.
Which parts of the eye can be treated through using stem cells?
We have managed to use stem cells for repairing damages to cornea. We also hope to use stems cells to treat retina damage after completing tests on lab animals. This could be achieved in the next six months.
How hopeful are you that this technique will be able to fully treat retinal damage?
If stem cells are developed and conducted in the right way, they will be 100 percent successful in treating patients suffering from eye disorders. However, patients may need to undergo stem cells treatment in several stages.
Which medical centers are currently providing stem cells treatment?
Farabi Hospital is one of the best hospitals in the Middle East for stem cell treatment. In has advanced equipment and qualified specialists.
Iran imported corneas in the past years to ease a shortage in donations. Is the country still importing corneas?
Fortunately, the culture of organ transplantation has been promoted in the country. This has helped establish an ‘eye bank’ in Farabi Hospital and overcome problems pertaining to eye transplantation.
The transplant of heart, kidney, liver and pancreas needs special conditions. These organs can only be taken from brain-dead people. But cornea transplantation is much more easier because it is not limited to the removal of the organ of brain-dead people.
Our experts refer to the Iranian Legal Medicine Organization (or forensic organization) and examine the files of dead people to choose the ones whose corneas can be transplanted. They conduct complete tests to ensure the organs are free of infectious diseases. If the families of the deceased give their consent, then, cornea transplants can be performed after medical tests and legal procedures are completed.