Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:


7-month-old is youngest recipient of artificial corneal transplant


A 7-month-old child whose first corneal transplant was unsuccessful underwent surgery Monday at the University of Rochester Eye Institute to implant an artificial cornea in an effort to give him sight. He is the youngest patient ever to receive the device.

Lukas Rakowsky of Dupont, Wash., was born in May with a tumor on his left eye. The tumor was successfully removed five weeks after his birth at Madigan Army Medical Center in Ft. Lewis, Wash. Lukas also underwent corneal transplant surgery that same day, in an attempt to help him achieve sight in the eye. The day after the surgery, though, Lukas’ cornea began to cloud up again, signaling the transplant had been unsuccessful.

His parents, Shana and Peter Rakowsky, were referred to surgeon James Aquavella, M.D., at the University of Rochester Eye Institute. In addition to specializing in traditional cadaveric corneal transplants, Aquavella has been implanting plastic corneal devices since the 1960s. The first procedures were long and tedious, and results were not known for many months. Patients required careful follow-up for the rest of their lives in an attempt to reduce the ever-present danger of serious complications. But there have been great improvements over the past 40 years, he says, making possible new procedures like the one performed on young Lukas.

Aquavella began last spring implanting the AlphaCor, an artificial cornea that doesn’t require donor tissue. The flexible, one-piece keratoprosthesis is designed to replace scarred or diseased corneas. The device is easier to implant than older models, cutting down on surgery time. The lack of donor tissue means the risk of rejection is eliminated. The new implant offers significantly more possibilities for patients at no more risk than implanting a cadaveric donor cornea, Aquavella says.

For patients like Lukas who have undergone unsuccessful corneal transplants and have little or no sight, this device can provide limited vision, allowing patients to see shadows, movement and colors, and some may even regain the ability to read.

"It is our expectation that for patients with a high risk of failure with a traditional corneal transplant, or as in the case of patients who have already failed previous attempts at corneal transplantation, this option offers renewed hope," Aquavella says. A similar device, the Dohlman KPro, also is increasingly employed in individuals with poor prognosis for a traditional cornea transplant, he adds.

The University of Rochester Eye Institute is one of 26 ophthalmic centers to evaluate the AlphaCor device. The Eye Institute is designated one of six centers of excellence in the United States to assist with the development of the technology. While the device has the approval of the FDA, Aquavella and colleagues are tracking complications, visual acuity, medications and failure rates.

Aquavella has implanted eight Argus implants to date. The majority of patients, all of whom have multiple eye diseases, have seen some improvement in their vision.

The surgery is similar to implanting a donor cornea. Part of the cornea is removed and the AlphaCor, about the size and thickness of a dime, is transplanted in its place. The procedure typically concludes with the formation of a flap of tissue from the conjunctiva (the white of the eye), which is used to cover the surface of the eye and create a natural bandage that allows the AlphaCor to heal in place.

Three months after surgery, a circle of tissue covering the front of the eye is removed, allowing light and images to enter. The patient sees through this opening, and the vision should be as good as the health of the back of the eye will allow. Some vision may be further improved with glasses or even with contact lenses fit over the prosthesis.

In the case of infants, such as Lukas, the conjunctiva can’t be used since it is vital that light enter the eye as soon as possible to avoid amblyopia (lazy eye), which is caused by lack of visual stimulus to the brain early in a baby’s life. Instead, the circle of tissue is removed when the device was implanted, and a transparent sheet made from amniotic membrane was used to protect Lukas’ eye and allow light in.

The University of Rochester Eye Institute, led by director Steven E. Feldon, M.D., M.B.A., is a world-class team of ophthalmologists and researchers committed to developing and applying advanced technologies for the preservation, enhancement and restoration of vision. Working with international experts in vision science and research, including those in optics, engineering and vision at the University of Rochester Center for Visual Science and Institute of Optics, the Eye Institute provides a full range of care and treatment options for the most common to the most complex vision problems. The Institute is committed to using its unique research capabilities to shortening the time frame in which new ideas become clinical realities.

The Eye Institute recently was awarded a $2.6 million construction grant by the National Institutes of Health for a building expansion that will triple research laboratory space and clinical space and create more room for its fast-growing faculty group, which has nearly tripled in the last two years.

Karin Gaffney | EurekAlert!
Further information:

More articles from Health and Medicine:

nachricht NIH scientists describe potential antibody treatment for multidrug-resistant K. pneumoniae
14.03.2018 | NIH/National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases

nachricht Researchers identify key step in viral replication
13.03.2018 | University of Pittsburgh Schools of the Health Sciences

All articles from Health and Medicine >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Locomotion control with photopigments

Researchers from Göttingen University discover additional function of opsins

Animal photoreceptors capture light with photopigments. Researchers from the University of Göttingen have now discovered that these photopigments fulfill an...

Im Focus: Surveying the Arctic: Tracking down carbon particles

Researchers embark on aerial campaign over Northeast Greenland

On 15 March, the AWI research aeroplane Polar 5 will depart for Greenland. Concentrating on the furthest northeast region of the island, an international team...

Im Focus: Unique Insights into the Antarctic Ice Shelf System

Data collected on ocean-ice interactions in the little-researched regions of the far south

The world’s second-largest ice shelf was the destination for a Polarstern expedition that ended in Punta Arenas, Chile on 14th March 2018. Oceanographers from...

Im Focus: ILA 2018: Laser alternative to hexavalent chromium coating

At the 2018 ILA Berlin Air Show from April 25–29, the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT is showcasing extreme high-speed Laser Material Deposition (EHLA): A video documents how for metal components that are highly loaded, EHLA has already proved itself as an alternative to hard chrome plating, which is now allowed only under special conditions.

When the EU restricted the use of hexavalent chromium compounds to special applications requiring authorization, the move prompted a rethink in the surface...

Im Focus: Radar for navigation support from autonomous flying drones

At the ILA Berlin, hall 4, booth 202, Fraunhofer FHR will present two radar sensors for navigation support of drones. The sensors are valuable components in the implementation of autonomous flying drones: they function as obstacle detectors to prevent collisions. Radar sensors also operate reliably in restricted visibility, e.g. in foggy or dusty conditions. Due to their ability to measure distances with high precision, the radar sensors can also be used as altimeters when other sources of information such as barometers or GPS are not available or cannot operate optimally.

Drones play an increasingly important role in the area of logistics and services. Well-known logistic companies place great hope in these compact, aerial...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>



Industry & Economy
Event News

Ultrafast Wireless and Chip Design at the DATE Conference in Dresden

16.03.2018 | Event News

International Tinnitus Conference of the Tinnitus Research Initiative in Regensburg

13.03.2018 | Event News

International Virtual Reality Conference “IEEE VR 2018” comes to Reutlingen, Germany

08.03.2018 | Event News

Latest News

Wandering greenhouse gas

16.03.2018 | Earth Sciences

'Frequency combs' ID chemicals within the mid-infrared spectral region

16.03.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

Biologists unravel another mystery of what makes DNA go 'loopy'

16.03.2018 | Life Sciences

Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>