Man regains sight with artificial cornea

An Israeli startup specializing in vision problems has developed an artificial cornea, for the first time implanted in a man.

It is the story of a man approaching 80 years old, whose cornea is defective and who gradually loses his sight. Faced with this, Professor Irit Bahar, director of the ophthalmology department at Rabin Medical Center in Israel implanted a brand new material, in the heart of the eye, to restore vision. This innovation is an artificial cornea, the first to be transplanted into a human, was developed by a start-up called CorNeat Vision, as Usine Digitale magazine explains.

An artificial cornea, welcomed by the human body for the first time

The problem with an aging cornea is that to change it or perform what is called a keratoprosthesis, you need a compatible donor. And while it may already seem complicated, there is another problem: there are too few donation of corneas for the number of people with progressive blindness. In France alone, 8,000 people require this operation each year, performed under local anesthesia.

However, the artificial cornea escapes all these complications! It is a “biomimetic” implant, that is to say that it is made from a biomaterial but it is artificial. Then, the human body will take care of integrating it, thanks to the fibroblasts, cells that manufacture collagen. In other words, these cells will create a tissue around the artificial cornea to appropriate it and facilitate its functioning.

A relatively easy operation to perform

Until now, this operation had only been carried out in animals. The success rate was satisfactory in the long term, to the point of achieving it in humans. Compared to the keratoprosthesis, the implantation of this cornea is very easy. Once the patient’s cornea is removed, it is deposited in the same place, in less than a minute, avoiding stripping the inside of the eye for too long. Then, the fibroblasts, numerous in this place of the eye (under the conjunctiva, the white part of our eyes), do their job to restore sight to the patient.

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