Mon 28-12-2020 16:50 PM
ABU DHABI, 28th December 2020 (WAM) - Surgeons at Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi, part of Mubadala’s network of healthcare providers, have performed the UAE’s first artificial cornea transplant in an effort to restore a patient’s eyesight.
The cornea is the clear, dome-shaped window that protects the eye and helps the lens focus light. This vital part of the eye can become clouded or damaged due to eye disease or injury, causing vision loss and even blindness. To overcome this, corneal transplants replace the damaged cornea with tissue from a donor, restoring or improving vision significantly.
While cornea transplants from a human donor have been used for a number of years, some patients with severe corneal or ocular surface disease are not candidates for this traditional approach since a transplanted cornea would quickly succumb to disease or be rejected, offering no improvement for their condition. The introduction of artificial corneal transplants, known as keratoprostheses, offers those patients fresh hope of restoring their vision. Made of modern materials rather than donor tissue, the artificial cornea cannot be affected by clouding or rejection.
"Artificial corneal transplants are designed for people whose eye disease is so advanced, they would not be a candidate for a regular transplant. Using an artificial cornea means the body cannot attack or reject the transplant. The center of the eye remains clear, giving the patient a new window to the world," says Dr. Samuel Navon, Department Chair of anterior segment, cornea and refractive disorders at Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi’s Eye Institute.
During the operation, surgeons remove the patient’s diseased cornea and replace it with a three-part prosthetic composed of a titanium backplate, a clear artificial cornea and a ring of donor tissue to help secure it in place. As the human tissue only surrounds the new, artificial cornea, if it is rejected by the body it does not impact the patient’s restored vision.
"We give patients a new cornea that won’t be rejected by the body. Surrounding that, we use human donor tissue that we almost expect to be rejected. However, this has no impact on the patient or their vision, it is simply there to make sure the new cornea stays in place," explains Dr. Navon.
Conditions that can cause a patient to require conventional cornea transplant include infections, injuries and keratoconus, a condition that is more common in the Gulf region than many other parts of the world. However, when traditional transplants have failed, or if the ocular surface is also damaged, studies have shown better success with artificial cornea transplants.
Doctors anticipate they will perform several artificial corneal transplants each year. The operation takes a little over an hour and is usually treated as a day case, with patients able to be discharged the same day. Following the surgery, regular postoperative visits are required to check for possible complications and monitor the overall health of the eye.
Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi’s Eye Institute offers patients state-of-the-art digital imaging, surgical and laser procedures. The Institute provides medical and surgical treatments ranging from laser vision correction (including LASIK and SMILE) to procedures for more serious ophthalmic conditions including uveitis and diabetic eye disorders, in both adults and children.