Infants and children who are blind due to opaque or damaged cornea may now benefit from a new version of artificial corneal implant, described during the recent annual meeting of the American Academy of Ophthalmology in Las Vegas. For some patients with this condition, traditional cornea transplants do not work. The researchers then studied the suitability and efficacy of a plastic device known as the Boston Keratoprosthesis used by just a minority of doctors.
The study included 17 children who collectively had been through more than 100 surgical procedures, including 39 traditional cornea transplants that had failed, before the latest implant. In the new study, two of the children received another type of artificial implant that failed, while 15 received the Boston device. All 15 of those children recovered some vision, sometimes remarkably so, and none had an infection or a problem with the implant. In the seven cases where the child was 4 years old or older and could explain to some degree how much he or she could see, every child could at least see fingers held at an arm’s length, and some children improved to 20/30 vision.
Boston Keratoprosthesis is made of a new type of plastic that allows nutrients to enter the eye better than previous designs. The latest procedure also includes a large contact lens placed over the cornea to help protect it from inflammation and scarring.