Today’s technology means that those who are blind are closer than ever to regaining their sight. Although not all conditions that cause blindness can be treated with technology, some of them can. That includes problems with the cornea—the tough, clear layer that protects the front of the eye.
In some cases, the cornea can become cloudy or scarred, blocking a person’s vision. Diseases like pseudophakic bullous keratopathy and kerotoconus, as well as trauma, can make this happen.
The KPro artificial cornea from a company called CorNeat is a new way to address the problem, Engadget reports. The surgical implant has already helped one patient regain his sight. It could do the same for many more people in the future.
Certain procedures, like a cornea transplant from a human donor, can address issues with visual impairment. However, these approaches require an intense surgery and are often unreliable. CorNeat’s solution doesn’t use donor tissue, making it a much safer and efficient option.
Meanwhile, the implant is designed to be integrated directly into the wall of the eye. This means that there is less need for incisions and stitches. The device is made from a biomimetic material that “stimulates cellular proliferation, leading to progressive tissue integration.”
Essentially, this means that the wall of the eye grows into the implant over time. This gives it a more secure fit and helps it deliver better visual acuity for the patient.
CorNeat says, “Fibroblasts and collagen gradually colonize the integrating skirt and full integration is achieved within weeks, permanently embedding the device within the patient’s eye.”
The company notes that the implant’s design also speeds up healing times, allowing the patient to recover in less time. As if that wasn’t enough, the KPro also looks fairly natural once it is integrated into the wall of the eye.
It’s worth noting that the implant doesn’t contain electronics of any sort. Even so, it is a high-tech gadget that demonstrates what science and biomedical engineering are capable of.
Hope for Sight
A legally blind, 78-year-old man recently became the first patient to receive the KPro implant. However, he won’t be the last. CorNeat already has ten more patients awaiting their turn.
The company is planning additional trials in Canada, France, the U.S., and the Netherlands in the days to come. Those projects are still in the approval phase but should be cleared soon if there are no safety concerns.
So far, the results speak for themselves. The first patient was able to see his family members and look at numbers on an eye chart immediately after the procedure was completed.
CorNeat’s co-founder, Dr. Gilad Litvin, says, “After years of hard work, seeing a colleague implant the CorNeat KPro with ease and witnessing a fellow human being regain his sight the following day was electrifying and emotionally moving, there were a lot of tears in the room.”
Should CorNeat’s KPro implant prove itself to be safe, it will be life-changing for millions of people around the world who are blind due to problems with their corneas.
Check out how the KPro implant works in the video player below: