Tuesday, 19 January 2010

And now the blind can see with the tooth

By Syed Akbar
Hyderabad, Jan 19: The blind can now see with tooth. Sounds strange, but city eye surgeons have gained expertise in this radical medical technique that makes tooth function like an eye.

Eye sight is normally restored in the blind through corneal implant. But in about 10 per cent of blind cases, corneal implant will not help in providing vision. Such persons can now go in for a procedure medically called osteo-odonto keratoprosthesis or OOKP for short. This procedure involves removing a tooth of the blind person, drilling a hole into it and implanting an artificial lens into the hole. Then the tooth is implanted into the eye, providing vision to the blind.

It is recommended for people who have corneal opacification due to chemical burns, severe allergy or dry eyes.

"In OOKP we use a sliver of dental tissue to support a telescopic lens. The technique is meant for patients who are otherwise not suited to undergoing conventional corneal transplants due to extreme ocular surface damage. Such patients now have hope of regaining some vision," said Dr GN Rao, head of LV Prasad Eye Institute and Dr Veran Sangwan, associate director and head of corneal services, LVPEI.

The cornea services at LVPEI has already been offering a similar treatment with the Boston Keratoprosthesis, in which an artificial telescopic device is implanted in the cornea. Several patients, some of whom suffered vision loss due to chemical or fire accidents, have benefited from Boston KPro implants. The OOKP technique goes a step further in using the patient’s own dental tissue to provide the supporting framework for the telescopic lens, which decreases the risk of rejection.

Professor Giancarlo Falcinelli from Italy, along with Dr Anthony Aldave from the University of California, Los Angeles, are at LVPEI, to work with doctors here on perfecting this and other prosthetic techniques.

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