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Artificial Cornea Implant Eye Surgery

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Artificial Cornea Implant Eye Surgery

Artificial Corneas may be the future of corneal transplantation

Artificial Corneas may be the future of corneal transplantation. A team of German scientists from the Fraunhofer Institute for Applied Polymer Research (IAP) in Potsdam and the Department of Ophthalmology at the University Hospital of Regensburg have found that by shaping and coating a special polymer it is possible to create the implant that could help the 10 million people worldwide affected by cornea diseases.

artificial cornea Artificial Cornea Implant Eye Surgery
In Germany alone, 7000 people are waiting for a transplant to save their sight and in Europe the number increases to 40,000. Currently the only source of cornea implants come from human donors and the ratio of donor to patients is simply too high to accommodate.Many attempts have previously been made at producing artificial corneas, but until now there has been little success. This is due to the conflicting requirements imposed on the material: While it has to grow firmly into the natural tissue at the edge, it must allow no cells to deposit themselves at the center of the cornea, as this impairs the patient’s vision.cornea hydrogel prototype.thumbnail Artificial Cornea Implant Eye SurgeryTransplants made from a biomimetic hydrogel called Duoptix had been tested back in 2006 by a chemical engineer named Curtis W. Frank however the prototypes well not well tolerated, infections developed around implants and the eyes extruded the implants.

The artificial corneas are produced from hydrophilic polymer and protein. What is special about this protein is that it can survive the later thermal sterilization of the artificial cornea without being damaged and because optical front part of the implant is coated with hydrophilic polymer, it is constantly moistened with tear fluid.

IAP project manager Dr. Joachim Storsberg explains.

“We selectively coat the implants: We lay masks on them and apply a special protein to the edge of the cornea, which the cells of the natural cornea can latch onto. In this way, the cornea implant can firmly connect with the natural part of the cornea, while the center remains free of cells and therefore clear.”

The first implants have already been tested in rabbits’ eyes – with promising results. If further tests are successful, the technology will be tried on humans in 2008.

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