The eye is a relatively small but very complex organ. It is responsible for vision. Most of its cells are terminally differentiated, and several pathologies affecting those cells lead to vision loss and eventual blindness. Several years ago, a group of cells, located in the limbus, was identified as having the capacity of self-renewal and later on found to feed the renewal of the corneal epithelial layer. Since then, this niche of stem cells has been studied in order to provide clues that can be valuable for the regeneration of ocular structures.
The worldwide shortage of donors, increased risk of transmissible diseases and immune rejection and the increased life expectancy, all contributed for the development of strategies to regenerate or repair ocular tissues.
In this review we focus on two approaches for ocular regeneration: one based on stem cells and the other one based on tissue engineering strategies, and present examples where these two strategies overlap. We review the sources of cells and tissue engineering strategies for the regeneration of the cornea and of the retina, summarizing the most relevant and recent findings.