Artificial corneal implant restores the vision of a 78-year old blind man - World's first such operation performed by head of ophthalmology, Professor Irit Bahar at Beilinson Hospital, Rabin Medical Center in Petah Tikva, Israel.
Corneal diseases are the second leading cause of blindness in most developing world countries. Around 2 million people every year suffer from corneal blindness, as per the World Health Organization.
Rapid transformations in healthcare have contributed from mechanical hearts and brain-controlled prostheses to 3D-printed organs. Designed by Ra'anana-based CorNeat Vision, Dubbed KPro, the artificial implant is a non-degradable synthetic nano-tissue.
Upon the removal of bandages, the patient who was blind for 10 years due to edema and background disease, was immediately able to read the text and recognize family members, with the artificial cornea.
"Unveiling this first implanted eye and being in that room, in that moment, was surreal. After years of hard work, seeing a colleague implant the CorNeat KPro with ease and witnessing a fellow human being regain his sight the following day was electrifying and emotionally moving; there were a lot of tears in the room", says Dr. Gilad Litvin, the co-founder of CorNeat Vision.
Corneal transplants are surgical procedures that restore the eyesight with a donor cornea. The demand for the donor cornea is high while pig corneas are a viable solution and the team's success with this procedure could prove life-changing for many.
CorNeat selected 10 trial patients who suffered from corneal blindness and who had either experienced failed corneal transplants in the past or weren't suitable candidates for transplants.
The CorNeat KPro implant readily imparts the vision of corneally blind patients following a relatively simple implantation procedure. The implant is designed specifically to replace deformed, scarred, or opacified corneas and completely integrates with the eyewall with no reliance on donor tissue.
"Our first trial includes blind patients who are not suitable candidates for, or have failed one or more, corneal transplantations. Given the exceptional visual performance of our device, the expected healing time and retention, and the fact that it cannot carry disease, we plan to initiate a second study later this year with broader indications to approve our artificial cornea as first-line treatment", says Almog Aley-Raz, CorNeat co-founder and CEO.