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Artificial Cornea To Reach Patients This Year 94

Posted by Soulskill
from the check-out-my-eye-pod dept.
kkleiner writes "A German-led team of researchers has developed a new version of an ophthalmological polymer to which the eye will bond and still function normally. 'The new polymer could help restore sight to thousands waiting for corneal transplants around the world. The artificial cornea has passed clinical trials and is ready to see expanded use in patients this year. ... In order to work in the human body, an artificial cornea has to meet some stringent requirements. First, it has to bond to the human eye around its edge. ... The center of the artificial cornea, however, does not promote cell growth and remains clear so that it can be seen through. The artificial cornea also has to move freely with the eyelid and balance moisture on its faces.'"
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Artificial Cornea To Reach Patients This Year

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  • by MrEricSir (398214) on Monday June 07, 2010 @06:21PM (#32490016) Homepage

    I didn't see this coming.

  • by Totenglocke (1291680) on Monday June 07, 2010 @06:29PM (#32490092)
    So you'd have your cornea removed and a new one put in? As someone who's had many eye injuries in my life, let me be the first to say "ouch".
    • by Anonymous Coward on Monday June 07, 2010 @06:35PM (#32490140)

      So you'd have your cornea removed and a new one put in? As someone who's had many eye injuries in my life, let me be the first to say "ouch".

      Actually, a cornea transplant isn't painful at all. You are asleep for the whole operation...Recovery on the other hand, while not painful to the eye, is a pain in the ass. I had to have such a transplant done due to a degenerative eye disease and I for one would love something like what this article is talking about. It would be much nicer to have the whole cornea replaced instead of just a section of it (which is what I had done, a small section about the size of my pupil was replaced.)

      • Re: (Score:1, Informative)

        by Anonymous Coward

        For my transplant I was only asleep while they immobilized my eye, I was awake for the actual surgery. BTW, your cornea doesn't feel anything, when you "feel" something in your eye or some other similar pain, it's usually your eyelid that actually feels the pain.

        • by M8e (1008767)

          BTW, your cornea doesn't feel anything, when you "feel" something in your eye or some other similar pain, it's usually your eyelid that actually feels the pain.

          Or in the ass...

          Actually, a cornea transplant isn't painful at all. You are asleep for the whole operation...Recovery on the other hand, while not painful to the eye, is a pain in the ass.

      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by SleazyRidr (1563649)

        How can they operate on your eye while you're asleep. Aren't your eyes closed?

    • by Abcd1234 (188840) on Monday June 07, 2010 @06:50PM (#32490286) Homepage

      So you'd have your cornea removed and a new one put in?

      Well, given the first corneal transplant [wikipedia.org] was done in *1905*, and was one of the first organ transplants ever performed, yes, that's exactly what would happen.

    • You would most likely have somehow trashed your cornea to even have this kind of thing an option.

      • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

        by weszz (710261)

        Not necessarily... I'm going to see an eye doc today about intacs for kerataconus (sp?), or the steepening of the eye as a genetic disorder. I have it in just one eye, and I didn't do anything to trash my eye, but a cornea transplant is one possible fix.

        For anyone interested in what this looks like, with my left eye closed I get a ghost vision where there are 2 clear images, one is just overlayed on the other... when the TV menu is up, I can read what is on one line, and I also see it on the line just above

        • by WhiteDragon (4556)

          I didn't do anything to trash my eye, but a cornea transplant is one possible fix.

          Don't forget to ask your doctor about the possibility of an Accomodating IOL [wikipedia.org]. I think they are occasionally prescribed for cataracts so I don't know if they are a good option for you.

          • by weszz (710261)

            interesting, I will have to remember that. thanks!

            I just really don't want to go back to contacts... I had LASIK so I wouldn't need them... Didn't know at the time that I should not have been a candidate a few years later...

            Right now I was looking into intacs which are plastic semi circle implants in the upper tissue of the eye to flatten it out

    • by mcgrew (92797) *

      I've had two eye surgeries (link [slashdot.org] and link [slashdot.org]), and the first was completely painless. a bit, but the arthritis was excruciating. Also, I had to hold my head down for two weeks after the surgery, and that was no fun at all. But it beat going blind, and I don't have to wear those thick glasses I wore all my life.

      I know a guy who will probably cheer this, as he's already had two cornea transplants for some degenerative disease.

      • by mcgrew (92797) *

        What happened to my comment? That should have read:

        I've had two eye surgeries (link and link), and the first was completely painless. The second was only painful because I have arthritis in my neck and they bolted my head to the table for the surgery. The eye didn't hurt a bit, but the arthritis was excruciating. Also, I had to hold my head down for two weeks after the surgery, and that was no fun at all. But it beat going blind, and I don't have to wear those thick glasses I wore all my life.

        Wierd; I previ

    • This could be AWESOME! I mean, I can't really complain as a whole. 20 years ago I'd be looking at a corneal transplant, now I can wear gas permeable lenses for the rest of my life sans transplant.

      Things like laser eye correction were not a possibility, I wonder if they could attach a "shaped" cornea to help my vision?

      Either way, very cool stuff...
  • Puns (Score:3, Funny)

    by HForN (1095499) on Monday June 07, 2010 @06:38PM (#32490162)

    "The artificial cornea has passed clinical trials and is ready to see expanded use in patients this year. .."
    I see what you did there.

  • by erroneus (253617) on Monday June 07, 2010 @06:38PM (#32490164) Homepage

    I read through the whole article until I got near the end. It was only then that I realized that while the article said "cornea" I kept thinking "retina" for some unknown reason. In any case, an artificial cornea is a terrific breakthrough. People who use laser eye surgery to correct their vision can only do so a limited number of times. After that, a cornea would need to be replaced. Ideally, a replacement cornea would be able to correct vision without further adjustments.

    More interestingly, an artificial cornea can do things to improve the health of the eye. For example, an artificial cornea could be made to block UV rays or even be polarized. I'm still waiting for telescopic vision corneas but I doubt that will happen. But the idea of having built-in sunglasses is interesting to me... not that I would have it done unless it were necessary to replace my cornea anyway...

    • by Anonymous Coward on Monday June 07, 2010 @06:45PM (#32490234)

      even be polarized

      Yes, I'd love to see people standing with their heads at 90 degrees just to be able to use certain ATMs.

    • by Abcd1234 (188840) on Monday June 07, 2010 @06:48PM (#32490260) Homepage

      People who use laser eye surgery to correct their vision can only do so a limited number of times. After that, a cornea would need to be replaced. Ideally, a replacement cornea would be able to correct vision without further adjustments.

      More importantly, there are a number of diseases related to the cornea that ultimately necessitate a corneal transplant. Technology like this would obviate the need for tissue donation, which is a huge step for people suffering from such illnesses.

      • by chill (34294)

        What are the average wait times around the world? I had a cornea transplant in the U.S. and my doctor wanted to find the best compatible tissue. Total wait time was 2 weeks from my (and my insurance) saying "do it" and him getting the tissue and actually doing the surgery.

        Honestly, with this first being performed in 1905 and being the single most common transplant surgery done in the world, I expected that in any industrialized nation there was an ample supply of donor tissue. In non-industrialized natio

        • by Abcd1234 (188840) on Monday June 07, 2010 @08:23PM (#32490976) Homepage

          Honestly, with this first being performed in 1905 and being the single most common transplant surgery done in the world, I expected that in any industrialized nation there was an ample supply of donor tissue.

          It's not so much an issue with tissue availability as it is issues with compatibility, rejection, etc. If you can make an equally capable, synthetic cornea, you can do away with all that, and that strikes me as a substantial win (though, at least at the outset, probably not a win on cost).

          I mean, I'm assuming this technology was developed for *some* reason. :)

          • by TheLink (130905)
            > I mean, I'm assuming this technology was developed for *some* reason. :)

            Because they can patent it?
          • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

            by mcgrew (92797) *

            probably not a win on cost

            A CrystaLens, which replaces the focusing lens behind the iris, will cure nearsightedness, farsightedness, astigmatism, and cataracts. The surgery cost about $7,000 per eye, which is cheap compared to some surgeries. I imagine this tech would be even cheaper; the CrystaLens was FDA approved in 2003, so is still under patent. They're about $1000 more than the older monofocal IOLs.

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by john83 (923470)

      For example, an artificial cornea could be made to block UV rays or even be polarized. I'm still waiting for telescopic vision corneas but I doubt that will happen. But the idea of having built-in sunglasses is interesting to me... not that I would have it done unless it were necessary to replace my cornea anyway...

      Certainly, a UV filter seems plausible to me. However, you normally use two lenses to make a telescope, so unless it could form some very exotic diffractive object, I think you'd need at least a pair of thick glasses to make a telescope. You might be able to make a magnfying glass though.

    • Re: (Score:1, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      But the idea of having built-in sunglasses is interesting to me... not that I would have it done unless it were necessary to replace my cornea anyway...

      They have contacts that block UV. I find mine more comfortable than glasses. Still, I wear sunglasses when it's bright.

      • by Jesus_666 (702802)
        Sunglasses are much better. I mainly wear mine at night so I can so I can watch you weave then breathe your story lines. I find that when wearing tinted contacts I can not I can not keep track of visions in my eyes so I tend to avoid them.

        Besides, people just love to switch the blade with the guy in contacts, oh yes. No danger of that with shades. Rhymes better, too.
    • by hitmark (640295)

      if its more reliable/repairable then laser, i can see it become popular.

      • by weszz (710261)

        intacs are removable... COMPLETELY reversible or tweakable with no tissue removed. Just a very fringe treatment still...

    • If it binds to the eye, I wonder if the same approach can be used for corneal modifications, as a less destructive alternative to laser surgery. I'd love to have a pair of contact lenses that just bonded to my cornea and got replaced in a decade or so if my prescription changed significantly. I also wonder how easy they would be to remove if used in this way. If there is something that's safe to put in the eye, which dissolves the bond, you could just get some eye drops to remove them, have a doctor inse

    • Re: (Score:1, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      "More interestingly, an artificial cornea can do things to improve the health of the eye. For example, an artificial cornea could be made to block UV rays or even be polarized."

      Both could be done easier by replacing the lens instead. Which might already be done, given there are artificial lens replacements (artificial cataract replacement) which includes corrective lenses (such as Crystalens). According to the wikipedia entry for "intraocular lens", a uv filter has already been done.

      You can't do everythin

    • by Zerth (26112)

      Natural corneas already block UV rays. People with current-gen artificial corneas, at least some of which are UV-transparent, can actually see a tiny bit of UV. Still looks purple, though.

      Unless it greatly increases the risk of some kind of eye cancer, I'd probably stick with the UV-transparent ones for the "hey, did you know that UV led is still on?" trick.

      • by PitaBred (632671)

        Most LEDs run in the IR spectrum, not UV. And without UV filtering, you would have to pay very close attention to wearing sunglasses every time you go outside.

    • With this technology there will be no chance for Rowdy Roddy Piper to uncover the alien conspiracy!
    • by Teckla (630646)

      People who use laser eye surgery to correct their vision can only do so a limited number of times. After that, a cornea would need to be replaced.

      I think the majority of such surgeries are LASIK, which reshapes the lens by removing tissue, rather than the cornea.

      I believe PRK is similar to LASIK except it reshapes the cornea by removing tissue. I'm not sure why LASIK is so much more popular than PRK.

      Any eye surgeons out there care to shed some light on the subject?

      • by drsmithy (35869)

        I believe PRK is similar to LASIK except it reshapes the cornea by removing tissue. I'm not sure why LASIK is so much more popular than PRK.

        Recovery time and discomfort. With LASIK you have basic sight back pretty much straight away, and a full recovery in a few days (ie: go in Friday afternoon, be back at work Monday). With PRK you need to assume you'll be out of action for at least full week.

        On the other hand, PRK has fewer complications and gives you much more leeway for future surgery.

        At least, th

        • by drsmithy (35869)

          I believe PRK is similar to LASIK except it reshapes the cornea by removing tissue. I'm not sure why LASIK is so much more popular than PRK.

          Forgot to add: I think LASIK is also quite a bit cheaper, since it's much more common - most people are budget driven.

          • by TheBig1 (966884)

            Forgot to add: I think LASIK is also quite a bit cheaper, since it's much more common - most people are budget driven.

            From what I have seen in my area at least, PRK is actually cheaper -- the reason being that there is no need for a microkeratome or Intralase laser to create the flap. Licensing for the Intralase is a couple hundred per patient, and the cost is passed on to you. My PRK surgery was $1600 / eye, whereas LASIK would have been $1800. (Granted, this is in Canada, from a highly respected and

        • Be sure to have it done by a qualified professional that thoroughly checks your eyes topology beforehand ! LASIK is contraindicated [helpkeratoconus.com] if you have some condition like keratoconus [wikipedia.org] which can be mild or asymptomatic and undiagnosed. You can ruin your eyes if you have LASIK in this case however, I have seen examples on keratoconus sufferers message boards.

          • by weszz (710261)

            *raises hand...* Had Lasik 2 years ago, and now have Keratoconus... Turns out I shouldn't have had Lasik done, but I had no idea, and they didn't find it then. It normally shows up mid to late 20's I believe.

            • *raises hand...* Had Lasik 2 years ago, and now have Keratoconus... Turns out I shouldn't have had Lasik done, but I had no idea, and they didn't find it then. It normally shows up mid to late 20's I believe.

              Man that sucks. I've heard of people getting it earlier but I first noticed it in my late 20's myself. In hindsight I'm probably lucky to be such a lazy SOB because I kept putting off having LASIC despite my mother's advice to have it done. Oh well, luckily with news like this, riboflavin crosslinking and stemcell research moving ahead in leaps and bounds there's plenty of reason for us to be optimistic.

              • by weszz (710261)

                no all bad, im my early 30's now, and headed to an eye surgeon in about 2 hours to see what I can do since i think it's still early... heard a bunch about intacs and how they are suppose to help (there is also the possibility that i's not keratoconus, but the version that is made FROM botched LASIK.

                either way i'm fairly confident insurance will cover it as a necessary thing to prevent blindness, and they told me they would cover it as long as a doc says it's necessary, so first step make the doc tell them i

        • by TheBig1 (966884)

          On the other hand, PRK has fewer complications and gives you much more leeway for future surgery.

          At least, that's what the folks at the LASIK centre told me (looking to get it done later this year - still haven't decided on PRK vs LASIK).

          That is why I chose PRK over LASIK. In LASIK the cornea never completely heals, and (according to some studies) only ever regains a small percentage of the strength of an unaltered cornea. For most people this is not an issue, but for me (due to martial arts and an o

      • Re: (Score:1, Informative)

        by Anonymous Coward

        LASIK doesn't reshape the lens, only the cornea. The difference between LASIK and PRK is that in LASIK they cut and fold a thin flap off the surface of the cornea, then use the laser to modify the shape (the same as PRK), then place the flap back on top of the operated area. This way the outermost surface of the eye is the same as it was before the surgery, and protects the healing process. PRK is more prone to complications like bacterial infection because the tissue that was burnt by the laser is open to

      • by TheBig1 (966884)

        I think the majority of such surgeries are LASIK, which reshapes the lens by removing tissue, rather than the cornea.
        I believe PRK is similar to LASIK except it reshapes the cornea by removing tissue. I'm not sure why LASIK is so much more popular than PRK.

        Speaking as someone who just went through PRK surgery, I can assure you that you are incorrect. Both LASIK and PRK remove tissue from the cornea; the difference is that in PRK the tissue is removed at the surface, while with LASIK there is a flap on

    • by Genda (560240)

      The cornea is a simple lens and you'd almost certainly have to replace the lens in the eye with a more complex set of optical elements to get telescopic vision. A simpler answer would be to place nano-scale laser arrays on the inner surface of the lens, such that it could paint images directly onto the retina. Having an ultra high performance video imaging system inside your eye would be wicked cool. Now if you want telescopic vision, just get a really good small scope with an imaging device and a transmit

    • Something that blocks UV would presumably be damaged by UV. The only workable improvement I can think of at the moment would be in the clarity of the material.
    • by mcgrew (92797) *

      People who use laser eye surgery to correct their vision can only do so a limited number of times.

      And for the severely myopic it won't give you anywhere near 20/20 vision, unlike a lens implant. The implants are far more expensive and more invasive -- they stick a needle in your eye, turn the focusing lens to mush with ultrasound, suck it out, and put the artificial lens in. The newer lenses actually let you focus. I got one for a cataract (the only way to correct a cataract is a lens replacement) and after

  • I read that as patents at first, but jokes aside I decided to do a brief search on patents. There seems to be a method out similar to that described in the article, although my guess would be the article is more about the all important application too...

    Abstract
    Germanium-containing organic polymers are obtained by polymerizing 3-trichlorogermylpropionic acid obtained by reacting halogermanium-phosphoric acid complexes with acrylic acid. The polymers are markedly effective in treating opthalmological disorders.
    [2/29/1980] http://www.patentstorm.us/patents/4296123/fulltext.html [patentstorm.us]

    But I will save judgment there because I do not know the details.
    Also in the article:

    Storsberg helped develop a new version of an opthalmological polymer which the eye will bond to and still allow to function properly.

    Anyone who cannot do a simple spellcheck on that word...haha nevermind I enjoyed the read. (Spelled: ophthalmological [reference.com])

    • Reply needed sorry:

      The patent listed deals a bit with a chemical used by the German scientists, but does not include much outside of that. Still interesting imo...whatever.

  • This is great news (Score:2, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward

    I've got Keratoconus, a nasty degenerative corneal condition that has to potential to leave me legally bind. This news just made my day!

  • I can finally get replacement eyes for all the stupid acts of humanity I've witnessed in my short lifetime that have dulled my sensitivity to this world.
  • wow thats interesting. need to keep us updated

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