Narayana Nethralaya in Bangalore has proudly announced India's first artificial corneal implant. As of now, only about 20 centers perform the procedure in the world.
Hospital chairman Bhujang Shetty announced the good news on the eve of World Sight Day (October 11). According to Dr. Shetty, the artificial cornea, technically known as AlphaCor, is an approved product of the Food and Drug Administration of the U.S. AlphaCor is a biocompatible, flexible, artificial cornea designed to replace scarred or diseased cornea tissue.
Doctors usually opt for implantation of artificial cornea in patients who have had multiple failed corneal transplants or for those in whom a donor graft is likely to fail.
Developed by Western Australia's Lions Eye Institute, AlphaCor is a biocompatible and flexible polymer with a sponge rim in which millions of pores are drilled by a special laser. The piece is placed on the eye where cells and blood vessels grow in the holes and ensure the artificial cornea remains anchored. There is no fear of the body rejecting the tissue or need for extended use of systemic immune suppression because the cornea is artificial, adds the doctor.
The surgery is performed in two stages. Initially, AlphaCor is implanted into the cornea and a protective conjunctival flap created. Later, the protective flap is removed to allow light to pass through the central clear zone to restore vision. The artificial cornea is imported from the United States and costs between Rs. 2.5 lakh to Rs. 3 lakh, Dr. Shetty says. He added that the price tag could come down once the product was widely used across the country.
The two recipients - Bhargavi (17) of Madanapalle and Krishnamurthy (61) of Koppal - however, did not have to pay as the company had offered it free. A team of doctors comprising Rohit Shetty, Anand and Himanshu performed the surgery.