Artificial Cornea Brings Sight to 11-Year-old
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10 June 2011
By Umesh Isalkar
By the time Kedar Kshirsagar turned three, he was almost blind.
The boy, who is eleven now, recently got back his eyesight through artificial corneal transplant, perhaps the first child in Maharashtra to get his vision back in such a manner.
His parents, Kailash and Gauri Kshirsagar, said he was three when he was injured in the right eye and lost vision.
Kailash, who works in a garment warehouse in Bhosari, could not affored the keratoplasty. Gauri works with a book–reading project initiated by an NGO in Bhosari.
"He could not see objects a few centimeters away. He would hold them closer than nose length. While watching television, Kedar's face would touch the screen. Since he was unable to walk, we enrolled him in a blind school," said Gauri.
In 2007, the boy's right eye was eviscerated (removal of the eyeball). The left eye too was affected by the injury and eventually, Kedar was virtually blind in both eyes.
"Keratoprosthesis (corneal transplant with artificial cornea tissue) is performed to restore vision in patients suffering from severely damaged cornea due to congenital birth defects, infections, injuries and burns," said eye surgeon Amrita Kapoor of K K Eye Instatute, who along with with cataract and cornea specialist Balamurali Krishna Ambati, an associate professor of ophthalmology at the University of Utah, carried out the procedure on April 21.
After three hours of complex surgical procedures, the boy had his vision restored in the left eye . "This is the first time that an artificial cornea has been used for a child in Maharashtra," said Kapoor.
Artificial cornea is grown in laboratories. It can become the best alternative in India, where humans are the only source of corneas for transplantation and the supply of donor tissue is limited.
Artificial cornea has been in use in the US for seven years and it has been found effective in restoring eyesight, Kapoor said. "The procedure is done to treat patients as a last–ditch effort when a patient has very low vision potential, a history of failed corneal transplants or are determined to have such a condition that a corneal transplant would fail if done," she added.
The artificial cornea for Kedar was brought from Massachusetts Eye & Ear Infirmary, where artificial corneas are produced.
The suregery was not without danger and Kedar's case was at a very high risk of graft rejection. Extensive counselling for the family followed.
Kedar underwent lens extraction, IOL implantation and the Boston Keratoprosthesis at the K K Eye Institute.
"His post–operative vision continues to be 6/12. The eye is responding well to treatment. A patient who undergoes artificial corneal surgery may develop infection, rejection and glaucoma ," said Renu Wadhwa, CEO of K K Eye Institute.
Voluntary donation and hospital corneal retrieval programmes (HCRP) are the two sources of corneas for Indian eye banks. Our country needs 3 lakh corneas every year, but gets only 38,000 corneas.June 10 is International Eye Donation Day.