Retinal ganglion cells (RGCs) represent an essential neuronal cell type for vision. These cells receive inputs from light-sensing photoreceptors via retinal interneurons and then relay these signals to the brain for further processing. RGC diseases that result in cell death, e.g. glaucoma, often lead to permanent damage since mammalian nerves do not regenerate. Stem cell differentiation can generate cells needed for replacement or can be used to generate cells capable of secreting protective factors to promote survival. In addition, stem cell-derived cells can be used in drug screening research. Here, we discuss the current state of stem cell research potential for interference in glaucoma and other optic nerve diseases with a focus on stem cell differentiation to RGCs.
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