Man Regains Sight After Receiving First Artificial Cornea Transplant

Israeli medical tech company restores cornea function.

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Man Regains Sight After Receiving First Artificial Cornea Transplant | Israeli medical tech company restores cornea function.

There is no greater accomplishment in medicine than making a blind man see. But that’s exactly what happened when a man from Haifa, Israel, regained his sight following the first artificial cornea implantation.

Developed by the Israeli medical tech company CorNeat Vision, founded in 2015 and located  in Ra’anana, the operation didn’t use any donor tissue, according to No Camels, and gives hope to millions of corneally visually impaired people around the globe.

Jamal Furani, 78, began losing his vision 10 years ago due to edema and other diseases that damaged his corneas and caused him to be bilaterally blind. In January, 2021 he received CorNeat’s artificial cornea, the CorNeat KPro, after the medical startup received permission for human implantation.

According to the World Health organization (WHO), around 2 million new cases of corneal blindness are reported globally each year and that 30 million people have lost vision in one or both eyes due to corneal disease or injury.

The procedure was performed at Rabin Medical Center by Professor Irit Bahar, director of the ophthalmology department at the hospital and Furani was able to see family members and read immediately after his bandages were removed, according to a press release from the company.

“The surgical procedure was straightforward and the result exceeded all of our expectations. The moment we took off the bandages was an emotional and significant moment. Moments like these are the fulfillment of our calling as doctors. We are proud of being at the forefront of this exciting and meaningful project which will undoubtedly impact the lives of millions,” Bahar said in the press release.

CorNeat Co-Founder and Chief Medical Officer Dr. Gilad Litvin who invented the device said that this experience was “surreal,” and called the surgery, “an extremely important milestone for CorNeat Vision” and a “key in our journey to enable people around the world to fully enjoy their vision potential.”

The procedure is not that complicated, the CorNeat KPro fits into the patient’s trephined cornea and is sutured with biodegradable stitches according to No Camels. It allows for ophthalmic examinations and other eye surgeries. And the best news is that it cannot carry any infections.

The  patented implant uses advanced cell technology and nanoscale chemical engineering to mimic the structure and functions of cells and allows it to fully integrate in the eye.

Furani was one of ten people that was approved for a trial of the implant at the Rabin Medical Center and two other sites will open soon in Canada. Additional sites are in various stages of the approval process in the US, France, and the Netherlands according to Almog Aley-Raz, CorNeat Vision’s co-founder, CEO and VP R&D.

These trials are for people who are not suitable candidates for traditional corneal transplants or who have had one or more failed transplants. Many transplants fail because corneas lack blood vessels and do not heal well according to Litvan. That’s why the CorNeat KPro implant is designed to replace damaged, scarred, or opacified corneas.

He said, “the holistic statement that we have as a company is to attempt to give back sight to people who are blind, to cure ophthalmic disease in that fashion, [and] try to bring more quality of life,  greater equality and sustainability to our societies worldwide.

Since there are far more people having corneal visually impairment than corneas available for transplantation, the CorNeat KPro implant will help fill the gap. It is also simple to use, simple to teach, and has a longer shelf life than human tissue. No wonder it is bringing hope to so many.

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