Patient regains eyesight after 25 years

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A man has had his sight restored through a pioneering stem cell treatment 25 years after he lost it in an acid attack. James O’Brien was blinded in his right eye at the age of 18 after he was sprayed with ammonia by a teenager in a random attack in south London.

Now 44, he has become the first patient to undergo a new life-changing eye surgery on the NHS, with doctors using stem cells from his healthy left eye to grow tissue in a lab and restore his sight.

Indeed, Mr O’Brien said: “Being able to see through both eyes after all these years means the world to me.” In a procedure last year, surgeons at Moorfields Eye Hospital in London cut the scar tissue from James’ right eye and replaced it with the lab-grown cells.

Furthermore, doctors then gave Mr O’Brien a cornea from a deceased donor to complete the process and restore his sight in June, after giving the eye tissue time to heal.

Besides, Mr O’Brien said: “It’s the little things I’ve appreciated the most, like being able to see my wife and children clearly for the first time. It’s fantastic and has definitely improved my quality of life… there were times before when children would look at my eye and recoil in horror. It’s nice for that not to be an issue anymore.”