Eye surgeons at the Rabin Medical Center in Israel have successfully implanted the first artificial cornea into a bilaterally blind human patient. Once the bandages were removed, the 78 year old man was able to read and to recognize family members.
This was all possible thanks to a device developed by CorNeat Vision, an Israeli firm, that consists of an optical component attached to a biocompatible material that resembles the human extracellular matrix. This material doesn’t biodegrade, but provides both the physical structure and biochemical signals to allow it to welcome fibroblasts and fuse with nearby native tissues.
Currently, patients with diseased or damaged corneas can get transplants, typically sourced from cadavers. But there’s not enough corneas to go around, so a synthetic option is certainly welcome news.
Although the synthetic cornea is one of the first applications for CorNeat’s material, it should have other significant applications in tissue repair and for the implantation of medical sensors and internal devices.
Here’s a video from an Israeli news channel with the first patient showing off his new eye:
And here’s a CorNeat Vision animation explaining the implantation procedure: