27 February 2008

Blind man sees after tooth implanted in eye

I have to admit I was a bit flummoxed when I saw that title on a news story. Even after reading the text it was hard to understand. A 57-year-old man lost his vision two years ago when molten aluminum splashed in his eye(!). At the Sussex Eye Hospital in Brighton he underwent a Osteo-Odonto-Keratoprosthesis (OOKP), which involves "creating a support for an artificial cornea from the patient's own tooth and the surrounding bone."

Finally I found an article in the "Ocular Surgery News of India" that includes pictures, including the one embedded above, which shows an eye one month after surgery. What the procedure does is create an iris for people who have severe scleral damage but intact retinas; the iris is of necessity fixed in size, but still functions like a pinhole camera to focus images on the retina. Below is a picture of the same eye after it has been fitted with a "cosmetic scleral shell." Truly amazing.

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