Corneal diseases are one of the leading causes of moderate-to-severe visual impairment and blindness worldwide, after glaucoma, cataract, and retinal disease in overall importance. Given its tendency to affect people at younger age than other blinding conditions such as cataract and glaucoma, corneal scarring poses a huge burden both on the individuals and society. Furthermore, corneal scarring and fibrosis disproportionately affects people in poorer and remote areas, making it a significant ophthalmic public health problem. Traditional medical strategies, such as topical corticosteroids, are not effective in preventing fibrosis and scars. Corneal transplantation, the only effective sight-restoring treatment for corneal scars, is curbed by challenges including a severe shortage of tissue, graft rejection, secondary conditions, cultural barriers, the lack of well-trained surgeons, operating rooms, and well-equipped infrastructures. Thanks to tremendous research efforts, emerging therapeutic options including gene therapy, protein therapy, cell therapy and novel molecules are in development to prevent the progression of corneal scarring and compliment the surgical options currently available for treating established corneal scars in clinics. In this article, we summarise the most relevant preclinical and clinical studies on emerging therapies for corneal scarring in recent years, showing how these approaches may prevent scarring in its early development.
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