PURPOSE: To present the current status and clinical implications of optic nerve protection, repair, and regeneration after experimental injury in mammals, including nonhuman primates. DESIGN: Optic nerve and neuro-ophthalmology experimental study review. METHOD: Synthesis of experimental data regarding experimental studies of optic nerve protection, repair, and regeneration. RESULTS: Under certain conditions, mammalian retinal ganglion cells can be prevented from dying despite injury to the cell bodies or their axons, injured mammalian retinal ganglion cells whose axons have degenerated can be induced to extend new axons, and regenerating axons can reach their correct targets in the central nervous system. In addition, stem cells can be induced to become retinal ganglion cells. CONCLUSIONS: It may soon be possible to preserve and restore vision in persons whose sight is threatened or has been lost from disease or damage to the optic nerve.
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